FAFSA Required to Graduate?


Julia Pimmel, Writer

Starting in 2022, graduating high school students may need to file a FAFSA as a requirement for graduation. Discussion of this started in 2018 and 2019 when Illinois and Texas joined Louisiana in passing laws that would require the FAFSA for graduating seniors. But what even is the FAFSA? The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a form completed by current and rising college students in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid. 

The goal of these laws is to educate students about their different financial options and pathways after high school. It’s also an attempt to make college more affordable and accessible. The graduating class of 2018 in Louisiana saw a higher graduation rate and more students attending college after graduation. However, it has been pointed out that there are possible consequences, as there are for everything. On one hand, it could seriously improve the rates of graduation and graduates going to college. But, on the other hand, it could also possibly contribute to students going into debt without receiving a degree.

More states are starting to consider laws like this, and Alabama is no different. Gov. Kay Ivey endorsed the proposal to have the class of 2022 be the first class to require the FAFSA for graduation. Studies have shown that completion of the FAFSA strongly correlates to college enrollment, though students would be allowed to opt-out of it and would have to sign a non-participation waiver. 

Some of the people who are against these laws say that even though the completion of the FAFSA does help, students should not be required to complete it in order to graduate. Congress did simplify the FAFSA as a part of the COVID relief package in December, changing the 108 questions to 36. The Alabama Board of Education will be voting on this proposal and its changes later this month, hopefully giving everyone more insight into this plan.