BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) – The Louisiana Department of Education says that 65% of high school seniors submitted Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications by the July 1st deadline, which is a 7% increase over last year.
FAFSA is for all forms of federal financial aid, including Pell grants, work study programs and federal student loans.
It is also required for Louisiana graduates to receive priority consideration for TOPS Opportunity, Performance, Honors and Tech scholarships, which can also be used for college and technical training.
“Historically, Louisiana’s FAFSA submission rate has trailed the rest of the nation. Now, we are not only meeting the rates of our peers, but we are, in many cases, surpassing them,” said State Superintendent John White. “It is encouraging to see more Louisiana students and their families taking advantage of federal and state funding to pursue post-secondary education opportunities.”
Officials with the U.S. Department of Education say 26,855 students, or 65% of high school seniors, in Louisiana submitted the FAFSA by the July 1st deadline.
This is compared to last year, where 23,733 students, or 58% of high school seniors, applied.
The increase can be attributed, in part, to recent changes to the financial aid process.
At the state level, the Louisiana Department of Education put forth a comprehensive plan to address the state’s low completion rates, including a Financial Aid Access Policy, which goes into effect in the upcoming school year.
As part of that plan, the state department encouraged professional school counselors to advise all students–not just university-bound ones–to apply for financial aid and provided them with training and a set of applicable resources to further advance their work.
It also worked closely with higher education entities and advocacy groups, such as Career Compass, Louisiana Educational Loan Authority, College Beyond and the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA), to expand its reach.
“Not only is FAFSA the primary application for the TOPS scholarship and the Louisiana Go Grant, its completion is required to be considered for federal Pell Grants, on-campus work study programs and many campus-based scholarship and grant programs, as well as to access low-interest federal student loans,” said LOSFA Executive Director Dr. Sujuan Boutté.
Boutté continued: “Louisiana’s increase in the number of FAFSAs completed by graduating seniors means that more Louisiana students will have access to the funds necessary to obtain a post-secondary education or the skill and occupational training necessary to ensure a comfortable lifestyle in a career that they love.”