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Arizona launches statewide campaign to get students to submit their FAFSA following federal delays

Arizona has launched a statewide campaign to get more students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Gov. Katie Hobbs declared April "Finish Line to the FAFSA" month and sent a letter to all school leaders and school counselors across the state asking for their help to prioritize FAFSA completion.

Arizona has consistently ranked close to last in the nation for the number of students who complete the FAFSA annually. That’s been made even worse this year by issues on the government’s part.

The form usually opens for students in October each year, but because of changes the federal government made this year, it didn’t open until December 31. Then came glitches that kept students from being able to complete it.

Megan Gilbertson is a spokesperson for Arizona Board of Regents. She said the state's new campaign increases support for students who still haven’t submitted it.

“We have partners across the state that are adding more events, more resources for students and families to help them with the application to make sure that they have all of their questions answered in order to submit that," Gilbertson said. "We have one-on-one virtual appointments, we have an Arizona FAFSA hotline, we have a text messaging service,  Ask Benji, we have webinars available and FAFSA pro tips."

Families can find a full list of events and resources  here. Nearly 10,500 fewer Arizona students have completed the form compared to this time last year. 

"Over the last three years, Arizona high school graduates have missed out on nearly $300 million in Pell Grant funding by not completing the FAFSA," Gilbertson said.

It's estimated that 40% of Arizona students that have already submitted the FAFSA may need to make corrections. 

"Students can begin making those corrections next week so it's very important that they go back to their FAFSA dashboard and check to see if they do need to make any corrections or additions," Gilbertson said.

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Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.