SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah System of Higher Education is advising anyone attending college or planning to attend college to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is the only way to receive federal financial aid in the form of Pell Grants, work-study, federal student loans and some scholarships.
Utah continues to be last in the nation in the percentage of eligible students completing the FAFSA. In 2014-15, 70 percent of eligible Utah high school graduates did not complete an application, the highest among all states. Those students left $45.2 million on the table in total unclaimed Pell Grants, which is free money for college.
Last year, Utah joined the FAFSA Collective Impact Initiative, the goal of which is to assist low-income, first generation and underrepresented students across the country to attend college. Through the initiative, Utah now uses a web tool to track which students in each school district have completed their FAFSA.
For the first time this year, the Utah System of Higher Education sent out thousands of e-mails to Utahns who filed an application last year reminding them to renew it this year.
The system also continues to host FAFSA completion open house events throughout the state. The Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority outreach team, operating under the StepUp to Higher Education initiative, will have hosted more than 73 such events by the end of March. Officials work with individual high schools and school counselors to host these events to encourage seniors and their parents to get help filing the application. Students who attend these events are also eligible to enter to win $3,000 in college scholarships.