Cutting college costs

FAFSA becomes Texas graduation requirement

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Photo by Allyson Smith

Story by Stephanie Jumper, Editor-In-Chief

A significant portion of senior year is spent preparing for life after high school. Whether this means racking one’s brain with college essay topics or filling out applications for full-time jobs, students in need of a diploma this year will all complete one form in particular. 

The 2021-2022 school year is the first year the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a requirement to graduate high school in Texas. Like previous years, students will submit their applications online.

“Students put in their financial aid information for their family for the year 2020 and submit the information at fafsa.gov,” Vice Principal Bettie Stark said. “Then, it will determine your eligibility for some scholarships and grants from the federal government.”

The FAFSA is commonly associated with college scholarships, but it is also a useful tool in discovering alternate opportunities for after high school.

“If they’re not planning to go to college, there’s still workforce programs and things that could be paid for through this grant,” Stark said. “There is money out there, possibly up to $6,000, for students that could pay for a complete workforce program if they want to be a mechanic, HVAC [technician], cosmetologist.”

Although FAFSA is rife with options for students, some believe it is unfair for an application to dictate whether one may move past this phase of life.

“I don’t think it should be a requirement to graduate,” senior Ryan Hampton said. “There are a lot of factors as to why someone wouldn’t complete one, from preference for non federal aid or just forgetting to submit [it]. It’s important, but holding a diploma over our heads is a bit much.”

The deadline for FAFSA forms is June 30, 2022 at 11:59 p.m., but the earlier students submit, the more financial aid they are eligible to receive.

“Some colleges do first come first serve, so there’s more money available the sooner you apply,” Stark said. “There’s lots of opportunities out there and we want to make sure students are aware of these opportunities.”