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Friday, March 1, 2024

Hoosier hurdle: Indiana targets top ten in FAFSA completion

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The Indiana Higher Education Commission announced their statewide 2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion goal.

Students are encouraged to file before Indiana’s April 15, 2024, priority deadline.

The Commission hopes to increase the FAFSA filing rate by at least 5% from the previous year. This includes high school seniors, adult learners and returning students.

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“Indiana is a leading state in financial aid, ranking first in the Midwest and fifth in the nation for our need-based aid opportunities,” said Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Chris Lowery.

“With the results we are seeing in other states that have adopted FAFSA completion legislation, I expect that Indiana will be a top ten state in FAFSA completions beginning with the high school graduating class of 2024.”

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Following the 2023 legislative session, high school seniors are required to file the FAFSA, with opt-out provisions available. Indiana is the eighth state to adopt a FAFSA completion requirement.

Other states include Illinois, Texas and Alabama. They all saw at least a 25% increase in FAFSA completion rates in the first year of implementation.

Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) hosted a free informative and interactive workshop to help district students apply on Jan. 13 at Arsenal Technical High School.

“Prepping for Success: The 3E’s & College Prep’’ assisted IPS students and their families with FAFSA completion, scholarship information and applications, mentorship and internship exploration, and career opportunities. 

The IPS Family Academy, which is committed to empowering families and students through educational programs and events, sponsored the event.

“Our focus [is] on the district’s 3E’s, enrollment, enlistment and employment, takes center stage in this dynamic, interactive session by providing attendees with the tools and knowledge needed to carve out a prosperous path for our students and families,” said Ashley Beverly, an IPS family and community engagement manager.

“Whether you are a student charting your path to college, career, the military, or a parent keen on guiding your child’s journey and obtaining the information and assistance needed to help your student reach their goals, this event serves as a compass to navigate their road to success.”

Preparing student to apply across the state

Based on FAFSA filing rates for the high school graduating class of 2022, Indiana ranks 29th in the nation. The Commission anticipates the FAFSA completion requirement will boost Indiana’s ranking.

“Access to postsecondary education remains a focus of the Commission,” said Lowery.

“For many families, affordability is the number one barrier to accessing higher education. Filing the FAFSA is one way to tackle this issue. The FAFSA can open doors to financial aid opportunities that students may not have known about otherwise.”

Filing the FAFSA is the first step toward accessing over $400 million in state financial aid and billions of dollars in federal aid.

Indiana high school graduates lost out on $76 million in Pell Grant funds in 2023 by not completing the FAFSA, according to an NCAN Report.

Eligibility for the Frank O’Bannon Grant, Indiana’s largest need-based financial aid award, is determined by the FAFSA. The grant received a historic increase in 2022 when the State Budget Committee approved a 35% increase to the maximum base-award amounts.

Students and parents (of dependent students) or spouses (of independent students) must create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID at least three days before filing the FAFSA at studentaid.gov.

How to apply

Information needed to create an FSA ID includes social security number (SSN), full legal name, date of birth, mailing address, personal email address, and a memorable username and password.

Information needed to complete the FAFSA includes FSA ID, federal income tax returns, W-2s, and any other records of money earned from 2022, a list of any federal benefits received, asset information, including bank statements and records of investments (if applicable), and records of untaxed income (if applicable).

Help is available for families filing the FAFSA.

The Commission’s Outreach Coordinators are available all across the state to assist students and families during the FASFA filling process. To send a direct message to your region’s outreach coordinator, visit www.learnmoreindiana.org/contact.

Hoosier families can also access free FAFSA help through INvestEd at investedindiana.org.

Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at (317) 762-7853 or by email JadeJ@IndyRecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON. 

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