State Rep. Vernon G. Smith co-sponsors bill to improve FAFSA completion rate

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary) announced his co-sponsorship of Senate Bill 54, which rewards school corporations that improve their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rate. Today, the bill passed through the House.

Completing the FAFSA application is one of the earliest indicators of whether a high school student will attend college. The application gives students opportunities to receive federal student loans, which often provide lower interest rates and offer forgiveness, in some cases. Additionally, many universities require the FAFSA to be completed before considering students for scholarships.

Despite these opportunities, students who could most benefit from financial aid are less likely to fill out the application. Smith hopes this bill will change that.

“Failing to complete the FAFSA leaves money on the table,” Smith said. “The costs of higher education continue to skyrocket, making every scholarship, grant and loan critical to college affordability. With only 61% of high school graduates completing the FAFSA, we clearly need to do more to get this money to our students and make college a more concrete option.”

High school seniors who file the FAFSA are 84% more likely to immediately enroll in postsecondary education. For students from lower socioeconomic groups, FAFSA completion is associated with a 127% increase in immediate college enrollment.

“Billions of dollars in scholarships and grants are awarded to high school seniors every year,” Smith said. “There’s no reason our students here in Indiana should be missing out on opportunities to fund their college education. The more we can encourage students to pursue the next step in their education, the better.”

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