The University of Colorado Boulder campus is seen on Monday, August 23, 2021. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)

The number of Colorado high school students completing federal financial aid forms increased for the first time since the start of the pandemic. 

That’s the good news. 

The bad news is that even Colorado’s improving rate falls well below the national average.

Overall, Colorado’s Federal Application for Financial Aid completion rate increased by 2.2 percentage points for the Class of 2022 over last year, bringing the number of students completing the form to 42.2%. In 2020, at the start of the pandemic, 48.9% of Colorado students completed the FAFSA. 

Nationally, FAFSA rates increased 4.5 percentage points over last year to 52.9%. About 54% of students completed the form in the 2019-20 school year.

Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for the 2022 school year in getting high school students to finish the FAFSA. 

Completing the form signals a student has plans to go to college. And it especially helps low-income students pay for their education by making available grants and scholarships.

“It’s encouraging after two down years to have FAFSA completions get back to approaching pre-pandemic levels,” said Bill DeBaun, National College Attainment Network (NCAN) data and strategic initiatives director. “The financial aid that is unlocked by the FAFSA is what makes college possible for many students. And so that’s positive news and we haven’t had too much of it in recent years.”


Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado

Twitter: @ByJasonGonzales