Indiana sees success in getting more students to file FAFSAs despite delayed federal government roll-out

INDIANAPOLIS — If you plan to be a college student in the fall, the deadline to file for state & federal financial aid is fast approaching. With the state’s FAFSA Priority deadline of April 15, the state has seen significant progress in getting more high school seniors to submit applications this year despite hiccups with the federal government’s roll-out of the updated, streamlined FAFSA.

Last year, Indiana passed legislation requiring all high school seniors to complete the FAFSA (although there is an opt-out provision)—becoming the eighth state to do so. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE) said this puts Indiana on track to becoming a top-ten state for FAFSA completion rates in the next several years. This week, the CHE said Indiana moved up in the rankings from 39th place last year to 26th place this year.

”We’re number one in the nation in the year-over-year percent change in FAFSA completions,” Allison Kuehr, the Associate Commissioner for Marketing and Communications with the CHE, said.

However, as of Wednesday, only 33 percent of Indiana high school seniors have completed a FAFSA thanks in part to the delayed roll-out.

”In the past, when the FAFSA would open in October, we would get a list almost within a couple of weeks from the federal government saying here are all the students in Indiana who have filed a FAFSA,” Kuehr said. “This year, we did not get that until March.”

As a result, the financial aid package offered to many Indiana high school seniors has been severely delayed.

”At our school, we do not have one kid that has a financial package from a school yet,” Allen Hill, the Executive Director of the Indiana School Counselors Association, said.

Hill said most colleges have a May 1 deadline for kids to make a final decision. However, with many students still waiting on what kind of financial aid they can even receive, Hill said many students are already calling it quits when it comes to college.

”Enrollment at schools across the United States this year are going to be down because of that,” Hill said.

Kuehr said parents and students should look into other financial aid opportunities if you’re still waiting on FAFSA financial aid package info. She also said to check your email address on file for your student’s FAFSA application.

”Sometimes, a firewall may block things, so we always encourage parents and students to use a personal email address,” Kuehr said.

After April 15, the CHE will distribute on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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