Not only are Louisiana high school students once again setting a national standard, they are making a statement. Louisiana Believes reports that the Pelican State is currently being highlighted for its one of a kind financial aid policy. The Louisiana Financial Aid Access Policy was the first of its kind in the nation and is now serving as a model for other states that are looking to make sure all public high school students have equal access to a post-secondary education.
The Louisiana Financial Aid Access Policy requires all public school students in the state to take one of the following actions. Students must either:
* Submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); or
* Apply for the Taylor Opportunity Program Scholarship (TOPS); or
* Submit an opt-out non-participation form (Students can also receive an opt-out form through the school system).
One of the aforementioned requirements, in addition to other standards, must be met for a high school senior to be eligible for graduation.
The Louisiana Department of Education also took steps to make sure that the policy is instituted effectively throughout the state. The state created the Louisiana Counselor Assistance Center. Louisiana also now provides statewide senior FAFSA completion rates within a given district. Lastly, the state offers various grants to its school systems for developing their own ways to directly communicate with parents on the top of financial planning for a student’s postsecondary career.
The state initiated the Financial Aid Access Policy because most of its high school graduates are unknowingly eligible for merit-based or need-based financial aid. FAFSA awards can be used at four-year universities, two-year colleges, and technical training programs. The FAFSA application estimates how much money a student’s family will contribute to a postsecondary education and then uses the information to determine student grants, work study eligibility, and how much a student will be offered in educational loans.
The Louisiana legislature passed the initial policy in 2015, which then took effect in 2018. Two states, Texas and Illinois, have already passed laws extremely similar to the one in Louisiana. The Michigan legislature is also considering a similar policy with Indiana and California in talks to follow.
Since the policy was instituted in 2018, Louisiana became number one in the United States of America for the amount of students that filled out and submitted the FAFSA. Louisiana is also number one in the nation for yearly growth in the amount of FAFSA applications. According to the National College Access Network (NCAN), 77.1 percent of Louisiana students submitted their FAFSA application by the priority deadline of July 1. This was a 25.9 percent increase from the year prior.
Louisiana’s increase made up 19 percent of the nation’s FAFSA completions.
This year was no different. 78.7 percent of students in Louisiana completed the FAFSA in the exact same time frame. This made Louisiana number one in the nation again for FAFSA applications completed by the priority deadline. This percentage is also a reason why more students from the Pelican State are enrolling in college more than ever before
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