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All New York high school students will be required to fill out FAFSA forms for federal student aid: why is it necessary?


Alina Prikhodko

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Every high school student in New York City will soon be required to fill out an application for federal financial aid. According to NY Daily News, This innovation will be part of the state's program to expand access to college.

Gov. Kathy Hochul is proposing legislation that would require all students to fill out... Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA, before graduation. The bill, part of the state's expansive budget plan, already has support from New York's public university systems.

“Students who do not complete the FAFSA are missing out on money that could help them succeed in college,” said State University of New York Chancellor John King. “What’s more, there are students who choose not to go to college because they weren’t even aware of the help available to them.”

Over half of SUNY students already pay no tuition thanks to various financial aid programs.


The proposal comes as the U.S. Department of Education is updating the FAFSA to expand eligibility and reduce the number of questions. But the form was launched months later than usual and was plagued by glitches that left thousands of applicants without help.

This seemingly minor setback can have a real impact on colleges and families. Last month, federal officials told colleges that FAFSA data would not be available until March. This pushes back the timeline for financial aid administrators to make offers to prospective students. The delay puts pressure on colleges to push back the widely accepted college decision deadline to May 1st.

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Patty Donahue, president of the New York State Association of Financial Aid Administrators, said the organization is calling on colleges to extend application deadlines “to ensure students and their families have adequate time to consider all available educational and financial aid options.”

Photo: Dodonov

An important step for the future

New York's struggle to get prospective students to fill out the FAFSA began even before the new form went into effect. According to the National College Attainment Network, applicants missed out on more than $200 million in federal aid last school year because they skipped filling out the FAFSA.

Completing the FAFSA is especially important for applicants from low-income families. They will be twice as likely to enroll in college this fall if they complete this form.

Hochul's proposal would put New York in line with 13 other states that require completion of the FAFSA. Alternatively, students can fill in the formequivalent to the FAFSA if they do not have documentation, or sign a waiver stating that they are aware of financial aid but have decided not to apply.

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Meanwhile, the public university system launched “SUNY FAFSA Completion Corps” is a group of 48 students from six campuses who are helping high school students fill out the new form this year. King said SUNY may push back the college decision deadline and that it will be announced “soon.”

“It will certainly be difficult to navigate the consequences of the delay,” King said. “I hope this is just a one-year problem.” The feedback we've heard is that the new FAFSA is indeed shorter, and I hope that this will increase its popularity in the long run.”

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