FAFSA Completion Project Expands: Targets Single High School LEAs and Rural Districts

In 2010, the Department of Education piloted a FAFSA Completion Project to assist local educational agencies (LEAs) and secondary school administrators in determining which of their students have completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the upcoming school year.  The pilot currently provides principals, counselors and college access professionals across 20 participating school districts and high schools with verifiable and actionable information to use in increasing FAFSA completion among their student population.  Key studies have indicated that FAFSA completion correlates strongly with college enrollment, particularly among low-income populations.

Since the FAFSA Completion Project’s launch, the Department has received increasing requests from LEAs and secondary schools to expand the program.  Today, the Secretary announced the second phase of an expansion effort to provide additional school districts with student-specific FAFSA completion data.  Today’s announcement invites an additional 12 single-high-school LEAs, including single-high-school, rural LEAs, to participate via random selection in the program and obtain FAFSA completion data for their students for the 2012-2013 FAFSA processing year that began on January 1, 2012.  An invitation for multiple-high school LEAs to participate in the expansion effort was announced in January and closed earlier this month.

The Department will accept requests from single-high-school LEAs to participate in the pilot expansion through May 1, 2012.  For more information on this opportunity, view the invitation letter (pdf) and visit our frequently asked questions portal at www.fsa4counselors.ed.gov.


  1. If you are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, it’s highly recommend to use the tool for several reasons:
    1.It’s the easiest way to provide your tax data.
    2.It’s the best way of ensuring that your FAFSA has accurate tax information.
    3.You will not need to provide a copy of your or your parents’ tax returns for your financial aid application.
    Who can use it?
    If you or your parents meet the following criteria, you’ll be given the option to retrieve, display and transfer your federal tax information:
    If you filed a 2011 tax return
    If you have a valid Social Security Number
    If you have a Federal Student Aid PIN
    If you do not have a PIN, you will be given the option to apply for one
    If your marital status has not changed since Dec. 31, 2011.
    Who should not use it?
    If any of the following conditions apply to you or your parents, you should not use this tool:
    If you filed an amended federal tax return for 2011
    If you did not file a federal tax return for 2011
    If your 2011federal tax filing status is married filing separately
    If you filed both a federal tax return and a foreign return
    If you do not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to provide tax information and your college requests a copy of your tax return or your parents’ tax return, you may be required to obtain an official tax transcript from the IRS. To order tax transcripts, go to Order a Return or Account Transcript at http://www.IRS.gov.

  2. I am filling out the FAFSA for my high school senior and can tell you that is really burdensome and quite redundant with the IRS income tax return. In the interest of reducing the burden on parents (who are already under pressure to complete their income tax returns); and in the interest of getting more high school seniors to apply for college, why doesn’t the Department of Education simply make use of the income tax return? By the way, I think such an action would be consistent with the original intent of the Reduction of Paperwork Act.

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