About the Data
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is a federal program through the US Department of Education whereby students can apply for federal financial aid for college (Please visit the FAFSA website for more information).
In an effort to encourage students to apply, the Department of Education gives states limited accessibility to data in the form of FAFSA application status of high school students which allows school counselors to help and encourage future graduates to take advantage of this program. To this end, DPI works with the Wisconsin Higher Education Aids Board (HEAB) to receive such student data via a data sharing agreement and passes that data onto districts through WISEdash for Districts.
How can this data be used?
FAFSA data does not belong to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. It belongs to the US Department of Education and is licensed to HEAB under the restriction that it is only used to encourage and help students submit the FAFSA Application. Wisconsin is licensed to use the data from HEAB provided DPI can make the same agreement with districts. DPI can pass this data onto districts provided that districts also comply with these same restrictions. For aggregate data that is available publicly please visit FAFSA Completion by High School and Public School District.
How do Districts apply for access to the data?
Similar to PALS and MAP data, districts who want access to FAFSA completion data for students need to sign a District FAFSA Data Sharing Agreement, scan it, and send to DPI’s Student Services, Prevention and Wellness (SSPW)team. You will need to open the pdf in adobe on your desktop to enter your district name and complete the digital signature. Once signed, please allow 15 business days for your application to be processed after which your district’s FAFSA data will flow to WISEdash.
A school district’s WISEdash application administrator will use WISEsecure to assign the either the Detail FAFSA Access security role or the Economic FAFSA Access security role.
Detail FAFSA Access users will also have student detail access to WISEdash for Districts but will not have access to student homeless or economic data. Economic FAFSA Access users will have access to all WISEDash functionality. As a reminder, each WISEdash user can only be assigned one role for WISEdash for Districts.
If you have a legitimate educational need to use this data in your district, please request access to the Detail FAFSA Access or Economic FAFSA Access role from your District Security Administrator or WISEdash application administrator through WISEhome. For complete instructions, refer to the WISEhome and WISEsecure Information page.
If you need help creating a WAMS ID please review the WAMS Quick Start Guide for information and instructions. If you have questions or need help with assigning WISEdash access, submit a Help Desk Case.
For those users with approved access, the FAFSA dashboard can be seen under the Postsecondary topic area. The summary dashboard displays a bar graph for all 12th grade students currently enrolled AND any High School Completers in the year prior to the year for which financial aid is sought and categorizes them into FAFSA filing status:
- Not Started - No FAFSA application has been received by the US ED
- In Process - A FAFSA application has been started but not finished
- Completed - A FAFSA application is complete
Data is only displayed for the latest Financial Aid Application Year for which data is available. Financial Aid Application Year is the year for which the student is applying for funds. This is -typically- one year after the current school year. For students that are in 12th grade in 2018-19, the FAFSA School Year for which they will likely apply for college would be 2019-20. Like other dashboards, the user can drill down into the student detail, disaggregate by standard demographics, use filters and compare the FAFSA completion rates for the various groups with the state. During late winter and spring, fresh FAFSA data is received from HEAB every week and data is joined with current 12th grade enrollment and high school completion data (from WISEdata) every night.
In accordance with the data sharing agreement, data is only loaded for students who are currently enrolled or have completed high school in the year prior to the year financial aid is sought and only for districts who have signed and submitted a District FAFSA Data Sharing Agreement. Be aware that, because data is not loaded for all Wisconsin districts, the statewide completion data only reflects the set of all districts who have opted into this program.
Unlike other WISEdash for Districts dashboards, given the restrictions on use of this data, there are no plans to provide trend data in WISEdash for Districts nor will this data be provided in the WISEdash Public Portal.
Frequently Asked Questions About FAFSA Data
- Do Choice program schools have access to FAFSA Data? No. Data for private schools -including choice schools- are not currently available in WISEdash for Districts so no FAFSA data can be loaded for these schools.
- How are students matched from WISEdash to incoming FAFSA data? We use first name, last name, middle initial or name and date of birth to match students between the FAFSA data and the data warehouse. Through this, we are able to match about 95% of FAFSA students. Sometimes student names are entered differently in the financial aide system versus the school system. In these cases a match may not be made.
- What happens if a student has filled out a FAFSA form but the FAFSA data cannot be matched to the student in WISEdash? The student is reported as not having filled out a FAFSA form. As school counselors use the FAFSA dashboard to seek out students who have not yet filled out the FAFSA form, we anticipate -given the match rate above- that 1 in 20 such students will have actually completed the form.
- How often is the FAFSA data refreshed? During peak season (November thru May) we get a new set of FAFSA data from HEAB near the end of every week which we then load overnight. We also refresh the 12th grade school enrollment data behind FAFSA every night.
- What components do I need in place in order to see the FAFSA dashboard for my district? You need to have both a District FAFSA Data Sharing Agreement on file with DPI AND you need to be a member of “Detail FAFSA Access” in WISEsecure.
- What privileges does “Detail FAFSA Access” give a user? Detail FAFSA Access has the exact same privileges as “Student Detail Analyst” with the addition of access to the FAFSA dashboard. Such users will be able to view all summary dashboards, drill to the student list/student profile, utilize student search to access student profile. Such users, however, will not be able to view Economic Disadvantaged or Homeless Status filters or data.
What is the cause of cases where a student filled out the FAFSA but WISEdash shows the student's FAFSA as "Not Started"? This can happen if there are problems in matching between systems. For HEAB to send FAFSA data to the DPI, the legal residence of the student on the FAFSA form must be Wisconsin ("WI"); further, FAFSA data is checked with Social Security Administration data and only FAFSA records where there is a perfect match between student name, SSN and date of birth are sent to DPI. Of the FAFSA data that reaches DPI, DPI then attempts to match student name and birthdate with students in WISEdash for Districts. In most cases, DPI can match the FAFSA data with WISEdash student data but there are a few cases where this is not possible.