Released by the Louisiana Department of Education
BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Louisiana Department of Education today announced 65 percent of high school seniors submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the July 1 priority deadline, an increase of 7 percent--more than 3,100 students--over last year's cohort.
The FAFSA is for all forms of federal financial aid, including Pell grants, work study programs, and federal student loans available to students to aid in the cost of education and technical training beyond high school. 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. The state's recommended deadline for submission for the 2017-2018 school year was July 1, 2017, but the federal application window for the 2017 graduating classwill remain openuntil June 30, 2018.
"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."
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 26,855 students--65 percent of high school seniors--in Louisiana submitted the FAFSA by July 1, 2017. At the same time last year, just 23,733 students--58 percent of high school seniors--had submitted the federal form.
The increase can be attributed, inpart,torecent changes to the financial aid process. At the national level, for the first time last year, the U.S. Department of Education opened the FAFSA application window in October, instead of January, to allow students more time to complete the form. 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 forfinancial 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), toexpand itsreach.
"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."
Original release located on the Louisiana Department of Education's website.