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To Increase College Enrollment, FAFSA Becomes New Graduation Requirement

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One of the greatest barriers to attending university is the cost. 

The rising price of college tuition is making financial aid unavoidable for many students.

In 2019, Texas joined Louisiana as one of three states requiring that all graduating seniors complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or as it is more commonly known, a FAFSA application. This measure saw bipartisan consensus in the 86th legislative session and was included in House Bill 3, which focused on the financial reform of Texas schools.

As the graduating class of 2022 faces the FAFSA graduation requirement, some might wonder why Texas is making its students fill out the lengthy and complicated form regardless of their post-graduation plans.

Simply put, Texas is attempting to increase the number of graduating students going to college.

Louisiana was the first state to require students to submit a FAFSA application. Prior to legislation, the state had one of the lowest percentages of students filling out the federal aid application.

Since rolling out the new requirement, Louisiana has seen noticeable improvements in the number of students applying for federal grants. In 2013, prior to adopting the policy, only 44 percent of all graduating seniors filled out the form. After the legislation was passed in 2018, 79 percent of Louisiana students who graduated filled out a financial aid application.

Texas is hoping to see similar results and promote post-high school education among Texas students.

Currently, Texas’ FAFSA completion rate sits at 34.9 percent.

According to the National College Access Network, students are significantly more likely to continue their education after graduating high school if they complete the federal form.

In Texas, there is a clear relationship between school districts with higher child poverty and lower rates of completion for the federal application. This policy has the opportunity of awarding need-based aid to students who would otherwise be unable to afford the financial undertaking.

Encouraging the student completion of the FAFSA application is a critical policy goal in reducing the barriers of continued education. Instead of opting in, students now will have to opt out and this, legislators believe, will cause more students to have more opportunities after graduation.

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