Office of the President

Office of the President
Barge Hall 314
Mail stop 7501
(509) 963-2111




Office of the President

1. FAFSA/WASFA Completion

Improvement in this area has the potential to deliver immediate dividends for CWU and the state higher education system as a whole. Only one state performs worse than Washington in the completion rate for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and over the next six years, we will be looking to provide better access to even more students who need financial assistance.

The FAFSA completion rate for all U.S. high school seniors in 2020 was 46.7%, meaning that a large pool of prospective college students isn’t even being tapped. In fact, a 2021 National College Access Network report documented that Washington students leave an estimated $60 million in federal Pell Grant dollars unclaimed by not completing their FAFSA. National research shows that 90% of students who complete a financial aid application attend college, and the main reason they don’t complete the application is they think it’s too complex or they are not eligible for aid. This perception needs to change, and we plan to make a more concerted effort to educate people about the options available to them.

Unlike FAFSA, the state does not have data relative to the number of students eligible for the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) who are not applying. However, according to the Washington Student Achievement Council, students face “significant barriers in completing WASFA,” including:

  • heightened fear and distrust about filling out a government form and exposing student and family citizenship status;
  • non-inclusive practices that treat WASFA completion separately from FAFSA, which creates stigma; and
  • systemic barriers related to culturally language and accessibility.

As we look to increase the successful completion of the FAFSA and WASFA, Central is poised to elevate the assistance we offer to graduating high school seniors and their families through our eight University Centers and instructional sites around the state. While we currently offer workshops on both financial aid programs, we do not have enough personnel in place to meet the demand in some locations. We also lack the resources needed to follow up with students and their families after an initial workshop to ensure they have the resources they need to complete their application.

The FAFSA/WASFA Completion Initiative will allow us to hire additional financial aid counselors in key areas of the state to improve application completion rates. As we look to maximize our results with this initiative, we will partner with the host community colleges at our University Centers, along with local high schools, the Washington Student Achievement Council, and other student advocacy groups. Our expectation will be to not only introduce students and families to FAFSA and WASFA through workshops, but also to build partnerships and relationships with families and communities who