2020-21 FAFSA Challenge

2020-21 FAFSA Challenge Schools Collectively Increase their completion Rates by Nearly 4 Percentage Points

In January 2021, Connecticut launched its first FAFSA Challenge, engaging 26 high schools across 16 school districts. The initiative responded to local and national data pointing to lower FAFSA completion rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, and was designed to improve FAFSA completion rates among high school seniors. Schools participating in the FAFSA Challenge increased FAFSA completion rates by an average of 4 percentage points; at the same time, the statewide FAFSA completion rate stayed flat at 55 percent and the country’s FAFSA completion rates declined by over 4 percent relative to 2020. Moreover, while the statewide FAFSA completion rate for some of our most vulnerable student groups changed little from 2020 to 2021, among Challenge schools, the FAFSA completion percentage for students with high needs increased by nearly three percentage points, and the completion percentage for students eligible for free meals increased by nearly four percentage points.  See the 2020-21 Statewide FAFSA Completion Report for more information. These early results are promising and address needs and opportunities highlighted by national research and historic data.

Overall, 42 percent of the high schools participating in the 2021 FAFSA Challenge exceeded their 2020 FAFSA completion rates in 2021 by 5 points or more. The state is recognizing the following four "challenge" schools for achieving the highest year-over-year improvements and the overall highest completion rates through the 2020-21 FAFSA Challenge. These schools have shown improvements in FAFSA completion rates from 2019-20 to 2020-21 of anywhere from approximately 11 to 43 percentage points with one school achieving a rate of nearly 78 percent in 2020-21 FAFSA completion rates.

  1. Synergy Alternative Program in East Hartford
  2. Orville H. Platt High School in Meriden
  3. West Haven High School in West Haven
  4. P-TECH Norwalk in Norwalk

Connecticut is also recognizing additional winners from the 2020-21 FAFSA Challenge and releasing a 2020-21 FAFSA Challenge Promising Practices Brief.


Congratulations to 2020-2021 FAFSA Challenge Winners


FAFSA Challenge Schools 

Challenge schools are high schools that were eligible to participate in the FAFSA challenge and receive additional resources, based on their prior year’s FAFSA completion rate, percent of students on Free or Reduced Lunch, and senior class size. 

Graphic with information facilities classified as "Challenge Schools."


Other Winners

The schools listed below did not participate in the FAFSA Challenge but are recognized for their achievement in increasing FAFSA completion rates during the 2020-2021 school year.

Graphic with information on facilities classified as "Other Winners."

Achievement Awards

Congratulations to the following high schools for achieving high rates of FAFSA completion in the 2020-2021 school year. 

Gold Awards: 80%+ of Class of 2021 completed the FAFSA
District, School, FAFSA 2021 Completion Rate 

  • Achievement First Hartford Academy District, Achievement First Hartford Academy, 95.5%
  • Amistad Academy District, Amistad Academy, 82.8%
  • Brookfield School District, Brookfield High School, 82.7%
  • Elm City College Preparatory School District, Elm City College Preparatory School, 83.9%
  • Hartford School District, Capital Preparatory Magnet School, 88.9%
  • New London School District, Science and Technology Magnet School of Southeastern Connecticut, 83.9%
  • Waterbury School District, Waterbury Career Academy, 82.1%

Silver Awards: 75%+ of Class of 2021 completed the FAFSA
District, School, FAFSA 2021 Completion Rate

  • Achievement First Bridgeport Academy District, Achievement First Bridgeport Academy, 78.6%
  • Canton School District, Canton High School, 78.2%
  • Cheshire School District, Cheshire High School, 78.2%
  • East Granby School District, East Granby High School, 75.0%
  • East Hartford School District, Connecticut IB Academy, 79.5%
  • Newtown School District, Newtown High School, 78.2%
  • Norwalk School District, P-TECH Norwalk, 77.9%
  • Norwalk School District, Center for Global Studies, 78.1%
  • The Bridge Academy District, The Bridge Academy, 78.4%
  • Trumbull School District, Trumbull High School, 76.5%

Bronze Awards: 70%+ of Class of 2021 completed the FAFSA
District, School, FAFSA 2021 Completion Rate

  • Avon School District, Avon High School, 70.8%
  • Berlin School District, Berlin High School, 71.3%
  • Capital Preparatory Harbor School District, Capital Preparatory Harbor School, 72.7%
  • Capitol Region Education Council, Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies, 70.8%
  • Cromwell School District, Cromwell High School, 70.1%
  • East Lyme School District, East Lyme High School, 71.8%
  • Fairfield School District, Fairfield Warde High School, 73.5%
  • Farmington School District, Farmington High School, 70.8%
  • Glastonbury School District, Glastonbury High School, 70.3%
  • Granby School District, Granby Memorial High School, 72.7%
  • Hartford School District, Classical Magnet School, 71.1%
  • Learn, Marine Science Magnet High School, 73.5%
  • Learn, Three Rivers Middle College Magnet School, 74.2%
  • Litchfield School District, Litchfield High School, 73.4%
  • Madison School District, Daniel Hand High School, 73.9%
  • Milford School District, Joseph A. Foran High School, 74.1%
  • Monroe School District, Masuk High School, 74.8%
  • New Fairfield School District, New Fairfield High School, 73.8%
  • New Haven School District, Engineering - Science University Magnet School, 73.1%
  • New Haven School District, New Haven Academy, 70.6%
  • New Milford School District, New Milford High School, 71.5%
  • North Haven School District, North Haven High School, 70.0%
  • Oxford School District, Oxford High School, 72.0%
  • Regional School District 05, Amity Regional High School, 71.8%
  • Regional School District 07, Northwestern Regional High School, 73.9%
  • Regional School District 08, RHAM High School, 71.8%
  • Regional School District 10, Lewis S. Mills High School, 73.2%
  • Simsbury School District, Simsbury High School, 71.4%
  • South Windsor School District, South Windsor High School, 73.2%
  • Southington School District, Southington High School. 70.7%
  • Stamford School District, The Academy of Information, Technology & Engineering, 77.0%
  • Thomaston School District, Thomaston High School, 71.4%
  • West Hartford School District, Hall High School, 74.4%
  • West Hartford School District, Conard High School, 72.8%
  • Wethersfield School District, Wethersfield High School, 72.9%  


2020-21 FAFSA Challenge Materials

Building on our efforts to improve postsecondary enrollment outcomes, the CT State Department of Education has partnered with CT’s College and Career Readiness Alliance (CCCRA) to announce Connecticut’s first FAFSA Completion Challenge. This Challenge is designed to spark and support local creativity to increase FAFSA completion and postsecondary enrollment rates. This builds on the CSDE’s previous effort to support Districts’ FAFSA completion efforts by providing student-level data through EdSight Secure. The goal is for Connecticut school districts to raise their FAFSA completion rates among the Class of 2021 by at least 5%, compared to the Class of 2020.

Additionally, this partnership seeks proposals from 21 Connecticut school districts who are eligible for additional support. Ten districts will ultimately be selected to participate in the FAFSA Learning Community. More details about the challenge, eligibility, and timeline can be found in the announcement linked below: