Tracking FAFSAs Only One Step Toward College Success

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 The U.S. Department of Education has unveiled a new data tool that will help high schools track how many of their students submit and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Updated twice monthly, the tool could be a valuable asset to school leaders as they seek useful data to inform their college-preparation efforts. And while anything that fosters college-going deserves applause, high school students and school counselors must remember that securing financial aid is only one step on the road to college success. Long before they submit FAFSA forms, students must begin pursuing course schedules that will prepare them for the academic challenges of college-level work.

The FAFSA means most when it is part of a total program of college preparation. It requires high school students to pursue a curriculum that includes four years each of English, math (Algebra I and above), social studies, and science (including three laboratory courses for the latter), as well as three years of a foreign language.

Given a realistic plan for college readiness, students can complete the federal-aid application and know they have a decent shot at a college diploma.

For more information about what schools and school counselors can do to help all students prepare for college, download the latest report from the National Center for Transforming School Counseling, “Poised to Lead: How School Counselors Can Drive College and Career Readiness.”

—Paula Amann