Inland Empire regional leaders and practitioners urge Inland Empire high schools to achieve 90% FAFSA completion by 2026.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion is one of the strongest predictors of postsecondary enrollment, which is key to boosting the Inland Empire’s educational and economic mobility. Every year, many eligible students miss out on free money for college. Filling out the FAFSA is the key to unlocking financial aid (such as Pell Grants) from federal, state, and institutional sources, much of which does not need to be paid back. Without intervention, declining FAFSA completion rates could indicate that last year’s alarming postsecondary enrollment declines will persist or even worsen.

According to the California Student Aid Commission’s Race to Submit dashboard, just 49% of Inland Empire students (San Bernardino & Riverside Counties combined) in the class of 2021 have completed the FAFSA as of early August. Determined to make change for our students, GIA’s Financial Affordability Action Network Team (ANT) proposed an ambitious achievement goal for the region – 90% FAFSA completion by all high school seniors by 2026. This means the region must reach a minimum of 5,000 additional students every year. GIA’s Board of Directors including both Riverside County and San Bernardino County Superintendents endorsed this bold objective in a Regional Call to Action.

“By providing students and families support with completing and submitting a FAFSA, the chances of college enrollment increase significantly. Many of our 56 districts across Riverside and San Bernardino Counties are already making great strides to increase their numbers; some have surpassed 90%. Yet, we still have work to do to achieve 90% completion region-wide, and it will take the entire Inland Empire educational network coming together to get there.”

Dr. Carlos Ayala

President & CEO, Growing Inland Achievement

Additional information and resources to support schools in achieving the FAFSA completion goal can be found at https://inlandempiregia.org/fafsa-completion/. Learn more about the work of Growing Inland Achievement at https://inlandempiregia.org.

GIA is a regional collective impact organization aimed at increasing postsecondary credential attainment, adding more qualified people to the workforce, and contributing to a thriving economy. GIA brings together leaders across K-20 education, civic, and business sectors to work together through a networked approach to achieve educational and economic success. Several grants have helped GIA carry out their work, including a Governors Innovation Award, College Futures Foundation, James Irvine Foundation funding, and a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Learn more at https://inlandempiregia.org.