Student Data and the Transition to College
If organizations collecting and advocating for student data use want to make a difference in helping students transition to college, there are two things they could do pretty immediately that would have an immediate impact on reducing barriers to attending and transitioning into college:
- Pre-seed the Common Application with information from the district and/or state level datastores; and
- Pre-seed the Federal Student Aid form with data from district and/or state level datastores.
I suspect that some vendors are already doing this, especially with products that are marketed to the independent school world.
There are practical hurdles around privacy that need to be considered, as well as details like the PIN required to use federal education web sites. But the process of applying to college is pretty paperwork intensive, and one thing data systems are good at is eliminating needless repetition around duplicate data entry.
On the technical side, I don't think that either the FAFSA or the Common App web sites have an API to simplify this type of automation. I would love to be wrong here.
Given that district and state level datastores are currently in use and have all this information, we should leverage them to minimize barriers for students between high school and college. College applicants would still need to do work to complete these forms, but the repetitive elements could be eliminated.
If there are organizations currently working on this type of integration, please, let me know - I would love to learn more about them. I suspect that there is effort underway to do something like what I'm talking about here, but that I haven't heard about it yet.