2018-19 FAFSA Completion Challenge

NCAN is pleased to announce the 2018-19  FAFSA Completion Challenge grant  competition to raise FAFSA completion rates among high school seniors in cities across the country.  One hundred U.S. cities are invited to submit a proposal describing how they will meet NCAN’s challenge: to raise their FAFSA completion rates among the Class of 2019 by at least 5 percentage points, compared to the Class of 2018. Up to 30 cities will be selected to receive grants of up to $40,000, generously funded by Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates and The Kresge Foundation. Also, NCAN will award a $100,000 grand  prize in September 2019  to one city based on  a holistic review of  the percentage growth in completions, adoption of effective strategies, barriers overcome, and likelihood of sustainability. This grant is the next generation of the 2016-17 FAFSA Completion Challenge NCAN managed last year.

Submit a Proposal

The 100 invited cities and eligible organizations for 2018-19 are listed below. Each has a population of at least 100,000 residents and a FAFSA completion rate that is at least 5 percentage points below the national average for the high school Class of 2017. Potential grantees in those cities may submit a proposal for the competition by the May 11 submission deadline.

For reference, please see these these FAQs about the grant competition, as well as this recording of a webinar NCAN conducted for prospective applicants.

For the 2018-19 challenge, NCAN will accept grant proposals from one of each city’s NCAN-member organizations, school districts, higher education institutions, local government agencies, community foundations, or selected other organizations that lead citywide college access and success initiatives. Applications will be evaluated based on collaboration among multiple stakeholders, strength of a city’s FAFSA completion strategy and initial plans, experience to date on FAFSA completion efforts, understanding of relevant FAFSA completion data and ability to access and use data, geographic distribution and student demographics, and integration of these invitational priorities:

  • cross-sector partnerships
  • strategic outreach and FAFSA completion efforts
  • capacity building, and data access and use

For more information on these invitational priorities, please see the Request for Proposals (RFP) document.

NCAN will assemble an advisory committee of individuals with expertise in FAFSA completion strategies and data to review grant applications and confirm the grand prize winner.

Application Timeline

  • Application Deadline: Friday, May 11, 2018 (11:59 PM Eastern)
  • Award Notification: June 1, 2018
  • Grant Funding Start Date: June 1, 2018
  • FAFSA Summer Strategies Institute: June 20-21, 2018 in Dallas, TX (attendance required -- all applicants should mark this date on their calendars to ensure staff are available to attend this required event)
  • Baseline FAFSA completion data for the Class of 2018 due to NCAN: July 31, 2018
  • Grant Funding End Date: June 30, 2019
  • Grantee Final Report Deadline: July 31, 2019
  • Prize Announcement: September 2019 at the annual NCAN conference in Indianapolis 

Questions? Contact Sara Melnick at melnicks@collegeaccess.org



100 Invited Cities and Eligible Organizations