Indiana students to be required to fill out FAFSA beginning next school year

(Photo supplied/U.S. Department of Education)

Students in Indiana will be required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid beginning next school year.


That requirement was approved by both the Indiana Senate and House. Then it was approved by Governor Eric Holcomb late last week. This applies to all students, but there are some exceptions. This is also not a requirement for high school graduation.


In the Class of 2020, state data shows that only more than half of students went on to college. It also shows that less than half of this year’s high school seniors in Indiana filled out the form. Supporters of the new law say that filling out the form, known as the FAFSA, is now a conscious choice instead of happenstance.


The FAFSA form is the form students need to file if they want to be considered for federal money such as grants, loans, and scholarships. States and colleges also use the FAFSA forms to determine if students are eligible for certain programs.


The new law means students have to submit the FAFSA by April 15 of their senior year. That’s the deadline for them to be eligible for both state and federal money. State leaders say students are leaving almost $70 million in Pell Grants on the table that could be used to make education more affordable.


Filling out the FAFSA can also provide funds for students who want to use a Next Level Jobs Workforce Ready Grant for a short- or long-term credential.


There are exceptions, however, for students at certain at nonpublic schools, and for students who have a parent sign a waiver to decline the form. Emancipated minors can also sign for it themselves. If a parent can’t be reached after “at least two reasonable attempts,” then a principal or a counselor can also waive the requirement by the April 15 deadline.


This requirement also expires in 10 years, so lawmakers can reevaluate it.


For this year, though, the deadline was extended to May 15 for the students who live in counties that are under a disaster emergency declaration for the following counties from recent storms: Benton, Johnson, Monroe, Morgan, Owen, Sullivan, and White.

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