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The 2020-21 FAFSA Dash is Underway

RI Education Leaders Collaborate to Help Students Pay for College

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) College Planning Center, and the Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner (RIOPC) have launched their 2020 FAFSA DASH to boost the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rate across Rhode Island.

Rhode Island finished the 2019/2020 FAFSA cycle ranked fourth nationwide, with just over 66 percent of eligible students completing the form by the end of the cycle in June. This year’s cycle began on October 1.

“Our goal is to put as many Rhode Island students on a path to attending and successfully completing their college education as possible,” said Angélica Infante-Green, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “Completing the FAFSA is a key step in the process, and we want to do everything we can to help our families navigate this process. We will keep pushing to put Rhode Island at the top of the list!”

The statewide effort to help students and families take advantage of financial aid opportunities will include email, social media, print ads, and virtual informational night events. The FAFSA coalition will be providing informational tools, such as online guides, checklists, and videos, in addition to conducting direct phone appointments from the College Planning Center as needed.

RIOPC will maintain the FAFSA portal, a time-saving tool that tracks student FAFSA completion data, enabling qualified administrators to improve completion rates among eligible students. RIDE will maintain the popular statewide FAFSA completion dashboard, which shows school-level completion data. While COVID-19 was disruptive to students in many ways this year, the coalition has worked hard and creatively to overcome pandemic-driven challenges to minimize delays and interruptions in assisting students with FAFSA completion.

“This is the perfect partnership, as RIDE has the ability to reach out to students and educators to promote the importance and value of FAFSA completion, while RISLA’s College Planning Center has over 20 years of experience helping thousands of students and families with free expert guidance in completing the FAFSA,” said Charles P. Kelley, Executive Director RISLA. “Together, we will help Rhode Island students obtain the free financial aid they deserve and build on our record as one of the best states in the country for FAFSA completion.”

According to an article from NerdWallet, “The high school Class of 2018 missed out on $2.6 billion in free money for college, according to their annual analysis of federal financial aid data. The money went unclaimed because about 661,000 of the nation’s graduates who were eligible for a Pell Grant simply didn’t complete their federal financial aid application.”

The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) is a non-profit quasi-state authority, which has been providing affordable higher education solutions since 1981. It also operates the College Planning Center located at the Warwick Mall in Warwick and at 652 George Washington Hwy in Lincoln, Rhode Island. In addition to providing loans and facilitating applications for federal grants, RISLA educates families on how to obtain financial aid, walks students through the college planning process, provides tools that can help families make informed and responsible borrowing choices for college, and aids students in jump-starting their careers.

The Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner supports the work of the Rhode Island Board of Education and the Council on Postsecondary Education in providing an excellent, accessible, and affordable system of higher education designed to improve the overall educational attainment of the citizens of Rhode Island, support economic development, and enrich the civic, social, and cultural life of all living in the state of Rhode Island. Visit www.riopc.edu for additional information.