Requiring the FAFSA: Louisiana’s Plan to Provide All Students with a Pathway to Prosperity
Speaker - Ken Bradford, Louisiana Department of Education
Thursday, April 19 – 2:45 p.m.
A high school diploma is no longer enough to earn graduates a living wage in today’s economy. Some form of postsecondary education or training is essential. A major barrier to accessing postsecondary education and training is financial resources. Most Louisiana high school graduates are eligible for some form of state or federal financial aid – either merit-based or need-based. State and Federal Financial Aid can be accessed by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Financial Aid can remove the barriers to accessing four-year universities, two-year community colleges, and technical training programs. This form is used to determine the amount of money a family is expected to contribute to the price of attending a postsecondary institution. The results of the FAFSA are used in determining student grants, work study, and loan amount.
In December of 2015, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved a policy regarding postsecondary planning for graduating public high school seniors. The policy sought to increase student access to state and federal financial aid by requiring graduating seniors to either complete the TOPS application or the FAFSA, declare a hardship, or submit a waiver to the local school system. The policy was made effective this school year and will apply to the Class of 2018.
Furthermore, the Department convened the Louisiana Financial Aid Working Group, a group of 50 representatives from various state education and workforce entities convened by the Department to identify means of supporting students in need of financial aid for universities, colleges and workforce training programs. And it has continued to support professional school counselors in their mission to advise all students–not just university-bound ones–to apply for federal aid.
This year, the Department will provide an updated tool kit to school counselors, including materials to host FAFSA-related events for families on their campuses and information about new resources, such as the Frank FAFSA mobile application, to help students and families complete the process.