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More States Require High School Seniors to Fill Out Financial Aid Form

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A growing variety of states are pushing highschool seniors to file the federal financial aid form because evidence suggests that students who complete the shape usually tend to attend college.

Five states — Alabama, California, Illinois, Louisiana and Texas — now require highschool seniors to finish the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, often known as FAFSA, in response to the National College Attainment Network. Recent Hampshire will join the group within the 2023-24 school 12 months, and at the least a half dozen other states are considering similar policies. Other states, including Colorado, have taken interim steps to encourage schools to advertise the shape.

FAFSA completion rates nationally are rising again after dropping in the course of the pandemic but still haven’t returned to pre-2020 levels, said Bill DeBaun, senior director of information and strategic initiatives with the attainment network. About half of highschool seniors accomplished one for the 2021-22 academic 12 months.

A fast review: The FAFSA, administered by the Education Department, collects details about student and family funds and serves as a gateway to grants, scholarships and loans for higher education. Students and their parents file the shape when applying to school and resubmit it annually. The newest version, for aid to be awarded for the 2023-24 academic 12 months, became available online on Oct. 1 and uses financial information from 2021.

States have seen significant jumps within the share of scholars completing the shape after adopting mandates, in response to the attainment network. Texas, as an example, went to a FAFSA completion rate of nearly 63 percent, from about 50 percent, when it adopted the brand new policy for the 2021-22 school 12 months, the network reported. The state climbed from the center of the pack for FAFSA completion to a No. 5 rating.

What to Know About Student Loan Debt Relief

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Who qualifies for loan cancellation? Individuals who’re single and earn $125,000 or less will qualify for the $10,000 in debt cancellation. In the event you’re married and file your taxes jointly or are a head of household, you qualify in case your income is $250,000 or below. In the event you received a Pell Grant and meet these income requirements, you can qualify for an additional $10,000 in debt cancellation.

What’s the very first thing I would like to do if I qualify? Check along with your loan servicer to ensure that your postal address, your email address and your cell phone number are listed accurately, so you’ll be able to receive guidance. Follow those instructions. In the event you don’t know who your servicer is, seek the advice of the Department of Education’s “Who’s my loan servicer?” web page for instructions.

How do I prove that I qualify? In the event you’re already enrolled in some type of income-driven repayment plan and have submitted your most up-to-date tax return to certify that income, you must not have to do anything. Still, keep an eye fixed out for guidance out of your servicer. For everybody else, the Education Department is anticipated to establish an application process by the top of the 12 months.

When will payments for the outstanding balance restart? President Biden prolonged a Trump-era pause on payments, which are actually not due until at the least January. It is best to receive a billing notice at the least three weeks before your first payment is due, but you’ll be able to contact your loan servicer before then for specifics on what you owe and when payment is due.

While the brand new policies are sometimes called “mandatory FAFSA,” some advocates for college students prefer the term “universal” because students can opt out of the requirement by signing a waiver.

But even when students can opt out, such policies help to create a “norm” that seniors are expected to submit a FAFSA, said Perry Wright, senior behavioral researcher at Duke University’s Common Cents Lab, which studies financial decision-making. “By making it the default,” he said, “it’s going to capture a bunch of individuals it hasn’t captured before.”

Mandatory FAFSA policies, nevertheless, place added demands on school college counselors, who’re typically stretched thin. Sara Urquidez, executive director of the Academic Success Program, a nonprofit group that gives in-school college counselors to 27 public and charter schools in Texas, said awareness of the necessity to file a FAFSA had increased. Yet students who may benefit essentially the most are sometimes the toughest to succeed in, she said, and want more one-on-one counseling to construct trust.

Some schools worry that in the event that they don’t increase their FAFSA completion rates, they could be penalized. “It’s a double-edged sword,” Ms. Urquidez said.

Since the policies are latest and have been adopted in only a number of states, it’s too soon to say if they’ll ultimately increase not only FAFSA completions but additionally college enrollment, Mr. DeBaun said. Some early evidence is encouraging. Reports on Louisiana’s experience estimate that requiring the FAFSA can increase college enrollment rates by one to 3 percentage points, he said.

  • A Recent Legal Challenge: Six Republican-led states have filed a lawsuit to dam President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, accusing him of vastly overstepping his authority.
  • The Plan’s Price Tag: Mr. Biden’s plan could cost about $400 billion, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said, making it one in all the most costly programs within the president’s agenda.
  • A Hard Sell: On the White House and aboard Air Force One, advocates of debt cancellation made a sustained push to win over Mr. Biden. Here’s how he finally gave in.
  • Who Will Profit?: The massive winners from Mr. Biden’s plan are not wealthy graduates of Harvard and Yale, as many critics claim. It’s the center class — and disproportionately young and Black people.

Listed below are some questions and answers in regards to the FAFSA:

As soon as possible, said Karen McCarthy, vice chairman of public policy and federal relations on the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. States, colleges and scholarship programs also use the FAFSA to award aid and lots of have early deadlines. You may file the FAFSA for the following academic 12 months until June 30, 2024, but you’ll probably miss out on aid when you wait.

The shape is undergoing an overhaul aimed toward making it simpler to finish. Congress approved changes like reducing the variety of questions and tweaking the formula used to find out who gets aid, but most updates won’t take effect until the 2024-25 academic 12 months.

The law updating the FAFSA requires that the shape ask about an applicant’s race or ethnicity and gender, in response to a Federal Register notice. The Education Department is including questions on this 12 months’s form as a “pilot” and can use the feedback to put in writing the questions on the 2024-25 form.

The demographic data shall be utilized in “research and evaluation of federal student aid applicants and recipients,” the department said in online notices. It isn’t used to find out an applicant’s eligibility for financial aid. Filers who need to skip the questions this 12 months can select “decline to reply.”

The Education Department retired its myStudentAid app in June, citing “low use.” But students and families can still fill out the shape on phones and tablets, in addition to on laptops and desktop computers; the web site’s pages “fit the screen size and shape of any device,” the department says.

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