FAFSA Data on Foster Youth

About FAFSA Data on Foster Youth

FSA periodically releases FAFSA data on applicants who were in foster care, were orphans, or were dependents or wards of the court. The FAFSA asks two questions related to these students. The first is asked in order to provide additional information on assistance through federal programs for foster youth. The second is part of a series of questions asked to determine the dependency status of FAFSA applicants.

While this data provides useful insights, it is important to understand what the data does and does not represent. To this end, the U.S. Department of Education includes important clarifying points on page 1 of its UHY FAFSA Data Report. NCHE encourages people seeking to understand the data better and/or referencing the data in publications or talking points to read ED’s clarifying points about the data in their entirety.


FAFSA stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” The official FAFSA web address is https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa/.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) provides more than $150 billion in federal aid each year in the form of grants, work-study funds, and loans. Completing the FAFSA is the first step toward receiving federal aid for college, career school, or graduate school. In addition, many states and colleges use FAFSA data to determine student eligibility for state and school aid; further, some private financial aid providers may use FAFSA information to determine eligibility for their aid.

Visit FSA’s FAFSA: Applying for Aid webpage for more information about FAFSA completion.