Law School Admissions


Why Didn't Students Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)? A Detailed Look

Document Type

Issue/Research Brief/Blog

Publication Date



economic barriers, financial education, student financial aid, law school diversity, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status


Despite the importance of the FAFSA, some students do not complete it. McKinney and Novak (2015) found that completion rates were higher among Black students than among White students; among students whose parents had lower levels of education than among students whose parents had higher levels of education; among public school students than among private school students; and among full-time postsecondary enrollees than among part-time enrollees. Research indicates a variety of reasons why students do not fill out the FAFSA: the perception that they may not qualify for financial aid, the perception that they do not need aid, the perception that the forms and application process are too burdensome, and concerns about debt (Chen, Wu, and Tasoff 2010; Davidson 2013; Kantrowitz 2011).