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Getting students ready to excel in higher education has been a topic dominated by conversations about raising academic rigor and standards. College readiness covers a scope of factors including content knowledge, academic skills, behavioral skills as well as “college knowledge”. College knowledge consists of the information that students need to navigate the complex processes of applying for college as well as financial aid. Many times, students have aspirations of enrolling in higher education but fail to complete essential tasks that make them eligible for college entrance. One of those key tasks is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which allows students to receive government aid for their college tuition. The application asks intensive questions about an individual and their family’s finances. Many students and their families do not complete the FAFSA because of time constraints, misconceptions about the aid received, or lack of knowledge in how to navigate the system. The focus of this study is to look at the Ohio 8 Coalition of Ohio’s largest urban school districts and to examine their FAFSA completion rates. Once the districts and their respective high schools have been examined, the study looks into which programs are implemented in order to foster high completion rates. Experts on FAFSA completion and the importance of “college knowledge” for the college readiness process have been interviewed as well as the superintendents of the highest performing districts to gather the specific details about the importance of FAFSA completion and what makes their district or high schools so successful in this area. The purpose of this research is to provide districts across the nation with resources on how to increase their FAFSA completion and, therefore, increase the likelihood of their students being able to receive aid for and enroll in higher education.

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Course Project

Primary Advisor

Connie Bowman, Thomas Lasley

Primary Advisor's Department

Teacher Education


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Arts and Humanities | Business | Education | Engineering | Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This poster reflects research conducted as part of course project designed to give students experience in the research process.