Here Today, Gone Tomorrow? Investigating Rates and Patterns of Financial Aid Renewal Among College Freshmen Jun 01, 2016 By Benjamin CastlemanKelli Bird Here Today, Gone Tomorrow? Investigating Rates and Patterns of Financial Aid Renewal Among College Freshmen College affordability continues to be a top concern among prospective students, their families, and policy makers. Prior work has demonstrated that a significant share of prospective students forgo financial aid because they did not complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); recent federal policy efforts have focused on supporting students and their families to successfully file the FAFSA. Despite the fact that students must refile the FAFSA every year to maintain their aid eligibility, there are many fewer efforts to help college students renew their financial aid each year. While prior research has documented the positive effect of financial aid on persistence, we are not aware of previous studies that have documented the rate at which freshman year financial aid recipients successfully refile the FAFSA, particularly students who are in good academic standing and appear well-poised to succeed in college. The goal of our paper is to address this gap in the literature by documenting the rates and patterns of FAFSA renewal. Using the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, we find that roughly 16 % of freshmen Pell Grant recipients in good academic standing do not refile a FAFSA for their sophomore year. Even among Pell Grant recipients in good academic standing who return for sophomore year, nearly 10 % do not refile a FAFSA. Consequently, we estimate that these non-refilers are forfeiting $3,550 in federal student aid that they would have received upon successful FAFSA refiling. Failure to refile a FAFSA is strongly associated with students dropping out later in college and not earning a degree within six years. These results suggest that interventions designed to increase FAFSA refiling may be an effective way to improve college persistence for low-income students. Research in Higher Education Benjamin Castleman Ben Castleman is an Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. Read full bio Kelli Bird Related Content Benjamin Castleman Intensive College Counseling and the Enrollment and Persistence of Low Income Students Research Though counseling is one commonly pursued intervention to improve college enrollment and completion for disadvantaged students, there is relatively little causal evidence on its efficacy. We use a regression discontinuity design to study the impact of intensive college counseling provided to college-seeking, low income students by a Massachusetts program that admits applicants partly on the basis of a minimum GPA requirement. Freshman year financial aid nudges: An experiment to increase FAFSA renewal and college persistence Research In this paper we investigate, through a randomized controlled trial design, the impact of a personalized text messaging intervention designed to encourage college freshmen to refile their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and maintain their financial aid for sophomore year. The intervention produced large and positive effects among freshmen at community colleges where text recipients were almost 14 percentage points more likely to remain continuously enrolled through the Spring of sophomore year. From Information to Action: Meeting Virginia’s Critical Workforce Needs During COVID-19 News During the most recent Batten Expert Chat, a Batten professor and a graduate of the School’s MPP program shared how they’re using data science to help address the Commonwealth’s shortage in healthcare professionals. Batten's Castleman One of Three UVA Faculty to be Honored by White House for Early Career Accomplishments News The Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers is the highest honor given by the U.S. government to scientists and engineers at the beginning of their research careers.