The photo is FAFSA. (Vitalii Vodolazskyi/Shutterstock)
All high school seniors in New York state may soon be required to fill out federal financial aid forms in a statewide effort to accelerate college admissions.
Governor Hochul is proposing legislation that would require all students to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, before graduation. Parts of her wide-ranging state budget plan, announced last month, already have support from both of New York's public university systems.
“Those students [who do not fill out the FAFSA] They're missing out on money that could have helped them go to college,” said John King, president of the State University of New York. “Moreover, some students did not even choose to come to college because they did not know about the assistance available to them.”
Thanks to various financial aid programs, more than half of SUNY students are already tuition-free.
The proposal comes as the U.S. Department of Education updates the FAFSA with fewer questions and expanded eligibility. But the form opened several months later than usual and was riddled with glitches, locking out thousands of applicants.
Seemingly small setbacks can have a huge impact on the university and family. Federal officials told colleges last month that FAFSA data would not be available until March, pushing back when financial aid administrators can make offers to prospective students. The delay has put pressure on universities to postpone the widespread May 1 decision deadline.
Patty Donahue, president of the New York State Association of Financial Aid Administrators, said the organization is extending the deadline “to ensure students and their families have sufficient time to consider all available educational and financial aid options.” He said he is encouraging universities to do so.
New York City's struggle to get students to complete the FAFSA began ahead of the introduction of the troubled new form. Last year's freshmen skipped the FAFSA and left more than $200 million in federal aid on the table, according to the National College Attainment Network.
Completing the FAFSA is especially important for applicants from low-income families, as completing the form more than doubles your chances of enrolling next fall.
Hochul's proposal would bring New York state in line with 13 other states that require the completion of the FAFSA. Alternatively, if a student is undocumented, they can fill out the state's equivalent form on the FAFSA or sign a waiver stating they are aware of financial aid but choose not to apply. I don’t want anything,” King said.
Meanwhile, the public university system has launched the SUNY FAFSA Completion Corps. This is a group of 48 college students from six campuses who will help high school seniors complete the new form this year. King said SUNY has extended the university decision deadline and that an announcement could be made “soon.”
“It's definitely going to be difficult to overcome the effects of the delay,” King said. “We hope this is a one-year challenge. And the feedback we've heard is that the new FAFSA is indeed short and we're looking forward to the long-term impact.”
The state budget is expected to be submitted by April 1st.
See more at New York Daily News