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Fewer high school students submitting FAFSA applications, concerning for Oklahoma colleges


Okla. — The number of students who turned in applications for financial aid is down dramatically from a year ago.

The Federal Student Aid (FSA) website says the drop is not just nationally, but right here in Tulsa too.

FOX23 found out why this is such a big deal for students and their families on Monday.

This year, the number of completed applications compared to the number from last year shows a 40% drop for students receiving federal aid.

FOX23 spoke with Vicki Hendrickson, the Director of Student Financial Services at the University of Tulsa (TU).

Like other schools, TU is urging students to fill out their FAFSA applications before the deadline on June 30, or they could be missing out on financial aid such as grants, access to parental loans, and work study approval.

“If students choose not to complete the FAFSA, there’s an opportunity that they are not gonna get to utilize funds that could help them pay for college,” Henderson said.

She said FAFSA can be critical for Oklahoma students.

“It enables schools to do an analysis if schools can offer institutional funding based off of need or if the government or state government can offer free money, student loans, work study to students who need it the most,” Henderson said.

Most Oklahoma schools saw a drop in completed applications from this time last year. 

Locally, Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) saw a decrease in FAFSA applications among non-alternative high schools.

This time last year, there were 629 FAFSA applications. 

This year, only 274 have been completed and sent in.

That’s more than a 50% drop.

Colleges in Oklahoma are speculating the drop could be due to the FAFSA revamping its form for the first time in 50 years, which has created confusion.

However, they say the process is easier than ever, and are urging students to fill it out now.

“Moving forward I want to encourage every family to complete the application for federal student aid,” Henderson said. “They need to give this a good shot.”

Tulsa Community College (TCC) said they’ve also been affected by this drop in FAFSA applications. Similar to TU, TCC told FOX23 in a statement that they hold several sessions with local high schools on the importance of filling out your FAFSA and how to do so.

They also say they have personnel always available for current students needing help with the application.

Tulsa Community College (TCC) provided the following statement:

“Tulsa Community College, like the rest of higher education institutions in the country, have been affected by the FAFSA situation. TCC has strong partnerships with area high schools and has held multiple FAFSA education sessions where our personnel provide assistance to help guide students and their families to complete and submit the FASFA. We have also developed and distributed communications encouraging students to complete the form. In addition, all four TCC campuses have Financial Aid personnel on site to assist students and their families. During our New Student Orientations, which began this month, our Financial Aid staff will be assisting students to ensure their 2425 FAFSAS are submitted.”

TPS released the following statement:

“Similar to school districts nationwide, Tulsa Public Schools has had its FAFSA completion numbers impacted this year by changes to Federal Student Aid systems within the U.S. Department of Education. Our efforts are ongoing to support seniors in fulfilling this important milestone. To promote access to affordable postsecondary opportunities, Tulsa Public Schools College and Career Advisors are working diligently with seniors to navigate the new FAFSA system, along with providing additional resources including a June FAFSA event to support families into the summer.”

Oklahoma State University (OSU) provided the following statement:

“Last week, OSU began distributing federal aid for approved FAFSA applications. As the Department of Education finalizes the rest of the remaining applications, OSU will continue to do its part to ensure students receive the appropriate federal funding. We know this situation has been challenging for our students, and we’re doing everything we can to proactively communicate with families and remain flexible as we receive updates from the Department of Education. Our financial aid and admissions counselors will continue offering one-on-one appointments throughout the spring and summer to discuss financial aid offers and assist students and their families.”

The University of Oklahoma (OU) provided the following statement:

“With the Education Department’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) delays this year, we recognize many students may have not completed their FAFSA applications just yet. Our team of Admissions Counselors and Student Service Experts are working with admitted and current OU students to provide helpful information for students and their families to complete the FAFSA. Students with questions are encouraged to reach out to the Student Financial Center at  or by calling (405) 325-9000. We are excited to share this past Friday several thousand students who completed the FAFSA started to receive their Financial Aid Notifications for the 2024-2025 academic year. Financial Aid Notifications will continue to be released to students as their applications are processed. Students are encouraged to submit their FAFSAs or finalize any required corrections as soon as possible. To help admitted students with their college decision, OU has decided to extend the enrollment deposit deadline to May 15 to give students more time.”

To visit the FSA website, click .