High school seniors who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are more likely to enroll in higher education, persist in their college coursework, and obtain a degree. That’s why the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (THEC/TSAC) have launched the inaugural TN FAFSA Challenge to increase the FAFSA completion rate among students in Tennessee.

The FAFSA opens the door to scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid that can kick-start college and career success. While many schools will have higher FAFSA completion rates by the time students graduate, additional state funding, institutional dollars, and private scholarships may be available if the FAFSA is completed earlier in the senior year of high school. By completing the FAFSA, students can take advantage of financial aid dollars being left on the table, possibly qualifying for:

  • Up to $6,495 in Federal Pell Grant money
  • $5,000 from the Tennessee Hope Scholarship & Aspire
  • Two years of free tuition at any community college or technical college in the state through Tennessee Promise

Education leaders across the state are encouraging high schools to participate in the TN FAFSA Challenge and promote FAFSA completion by the Tennessee Promise deadline of March 1. High schools competing in the challenge have the opportunity to be recognized for outstanding achievement in three categories:

  • Highest completion rate
  • Most improved completion rate compared to the previous year
  • FAFSA Champion

Schools will compete in the challenge against schools of similar size. There are two ways a high school can earn FAFSA Champion status: 

  • Increase their Tennessee Promise applicant FAFSA completion rate by 5 percentage points or more (compared to the previous academic year) as of the Tennessee Promise FAFSA deadline).
  • Have 95 percent or more of their Tennessee Promise applicants complete the FAFSA as of the Tennessee Promise FAFSA deadline.

Schools can track their progress in the challenge and see the progress of other high schools across the state using the data visualization map. Created and shared by THEC, the map and a variety of other student support resources are available at CollegeforTN.org

Tennessee Higher Education Commission