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Applications for federal financial aid soon to be required for high schoolers.

The cost of college continues to increase, but too often, financial aid officials say, students fail to tap into existing resources, resulting in money left on the table.

A new state law could help.  Included in House Bill 3, which focused on school finance reform, is a requirement that all high school students submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or a similiar state aid form, prior to graduating.  Current sophomores who graduate in 2022 will be among the first classes in the state to fall under the new law.

Students who apply for federal aid could become eligible for grants, scholarships, loans, study-abroad aid, work-study jobs or tax benefits.  Many colleges and universities also use the completed form to determine the financial aid they will provide to students.

The new law will make FAFSA submission a requirement for all Texas students.  Students will also have the option of filling out the Texas Application for State Financial Aid instead.

Those who choose not to apply for federal or state aid must get a waiver signed by a parent or school counselor.

One of the thoughts behind the law is that students who apply for federal financial aid are more likely to want to go to college and will be more aware of their financial options.  Mandating the application also allows the state to better track applications.

New Requirement Beginning With the Class of 2020
Before graduating high school, Texas students will be required to do one of the following:

  • Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA;
  • Complete and submit a Texas Application for State Financial Aid, or TASFA;
  • Have a signed waiver from a parent exempting the student from completing the financial aid application; or
  • Have a signed waiver from a school counselor stating the student may decline to complete and submit an application for "good cause as determined by the school counselor."