A Note on FAFSA Data Estimates

Calculating Estimated FAFSA Completion Rates

School-level FAFSA completion estimates for the current school year are calculated as:

  • the number of FAFSA completions for the current cycle (2019-20) as reported by the United States Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), divided by
  • the total preliminary grade 12 enrollment for the 2018-19 school year as reported by the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

School-level FAFSA completion estimates for the previous school year are calculated as:

  • the number of FAFSA completions for the previous cycle (2018-19) as reported by FSA, divided by
  • the total final grade 12 enrollment for the 2017-18 school year as reported by NYSED.

The school-level end of previous school year FAFSA completion estimates are calculated as:

  • the number of FAFSA completions for the previous cycle (2018-19) at the end of June, as reported by FSA, divided by
  • the total final grade 12 enrollment for the 2017-18 school year at each school as reported by NYSED.

Aggregated data reflects the following:

  • District-level FAFSA completion estimates for current and previous years refer to the aggregate of school-level data for that district and year.
  • FAFSA completion estimates for charter schools as a group refer to the aggregate of all charter school data in New York State for the previous or current year.
  • The statewide FAFSA completion estimate is the aggregate of all New York State school-level data for the current year.

FSA data on number of FAFSA completions can be found here. Also, please see additional FSA details on FAFSA completion data found here.

Similar Schools and High Performers

The FAFSA completion estimates for “similar schools” reflects the weighted average of schools within five groupings based on the percent of low-income students: 0% to 20%; more than 20% to 40%; more than 40% to 60%; more than 60% to 80%; and more than 80%.

The percent of low-income students at each school was calculated using NYSED’s preliminary school-level data on the total enrollment of “economically disadvantaged” students and total school-wide enrollment for the 2018-19 school year.

The FAFSA completion estimate for “high performers” is based on the weighted average of all schools found in the top 10 percent of FAFSA completion estimates as of the most recent data.

Data Exclusions and Decision Rules

For the purposes of this analysis, our universe of schools was any New York State public school with grade 12 enrollment for the 2018-19 school year according to the NYSED’s preliminary school-level enrollment data found here. In total, this resulted in 1,298 schools in our universe. Of the 1,298 schools in our universe, the following schools are excluded from the analysis:

  • 30 District 75 schools;
  • 18 Special Act schools;
  • 11 schools with no FAFSA completion data;
  • 10 schools with total grade 12 enrollment of less than ten students;
  • 3 schools with a FAFSA completion rate that exceeded 110 percent of the school’s total grade 12 enrollment; and
  • The Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), which was excluded due to the unique nature of the school’s program.

In total, 1,225 (94 percent) of the 1,298 schools in our universe are included in the analysis.

In cases where a school has fewer than five FAFSA completions, FSA reports the completion number as “<5.” The analysis assumes that the number of FAFSA completions is four in these circumstances and as a result, a school’s actual FAFSA completion rate may be lower than the estimate displayed in the tool.

The number of FAFSA completions, and thus the FAFSA completion estimates, may decrease over time due to an applicant’s correction to their FAFSA or other FSA related data quality controls. For previous and current years, FAFSA completion estimates that are greater than 100 percent and up to 110 percent are reported as 100 percent. When the number of FAFSA completions is greater than 110 percent of total grade 12 enrollment, the school is excluded from the analysis.