Factors Influencing the Timing of FASFA Application and the Impact of Late Filing on Student Finances


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Virginia Tech


A college degree provides benefits to individuals and society, but education is an expensive endeavor. College costs are high and they continue to rise while the median family income shows only modest increases. By lowering the cost of attendance, financial aid makes it possible for many students, especially those from low and middle-income families to attend college. FAFSA is the main instrument used in distributing financial assistance although completing the form is not an easy task. Each year, many students do not file the FAFSA or file it too late, missing valuable financial resources. The focus of this research was on students who file FAFSA late. The purpose of the study was two-fold: to explore the relationship between the timing of FASFA filing and the characteristics of financial aid applicants, and to assess the impact of late filing on student finances.

Logistic regression analysis was used to examine how much of the variation in timing of FAFSA filing could be explained by students characteristics. The findings indicate late FAFSA filers tend to be in-state, male students, coming from single households, with weak high school academic performance. Focusing on low-income group, the study found the odds of filing late were nearly 2.8 times higher for in-state students than they were for out-of-state students. Being male increased the chances of late filing; the odds of filing late for low-income male students were 1.53 times higher than they were for low-income females. The impact of late FAFSA filing on student finances was assessed through linear regression analyses. The results show late filers received less grant aid but larger loan amounts. Compared to on time filers, late FAFSA filers received, on average, $2,815 less in grant aid and $662 more in loans.

The current study shed light on several key factors that make students more likely to miss the FAFSA deadlines. In addition, it demonstrated that late filing has major financial consequences for students and their families. The findings can be used by high school guidance offices, college administrators, state and federal governments, and higher education leaders concerned with improving college affordability.



Student Financial Aid, FAFSA, Late Filers, Logistic Regression, Affordability, Student Grants and Loans