State sets FAFSA completion goal

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education recently announced a statewide Free Application for Federal Student Aid completion goal for high school Seniors to improve currently low filing rates and increase access to state, federal and institutional financial aid.

The commission’s goal is to have at least 60% of the high school graduating class of 2023 complete the FAFSA by the state’s April 15 priority deadline. A new statewide goal of 65% of FAFSA completions will be set for the high school graduating class of 2024.

Filing the FAFSA is the first step towards accessing some of the $390 million in state financial aid and billions of dollars in federal aid available to students.

According to the National College Attainment Network, Indiana high school graduates left $65 million in Pell Grants on the table in 2021 by not completing the FAFSA. Completing the FAFSA on time is a necessary step for 21st Century Scholars to earn the full Scholarship amount of up to four years of college tuition.

As of Jan. 12, 28% of current high school seniors have filed the FAFSA. Progress towards the 60% goal can be tracked on the commission’s interactive online Dashboard at learnmoreindiana.org/fafsa-tracker.

The Dashboard will be updated weekly. The high schools with the highest percentage of FAFSA completions will be recognized this summer.

How to file the FAFSA

Students can file the FAFSA online at fafsa.gov. The first step for students who have not previously filed the FAFSA is to create a Federal Student Aid ID. Then each student will need a Social Security number or Alien Registration number (for non-US citizens); federal income tax returns, W-2s and other records of money earned from 2021; bank statements and records of any investments; and records of any untaxed income.

Assistance is available

The US Department of Education provides email and live chat assistance for FAFSA filers as well as a helpline at 800-4-FED-AID.

Hoosier families also can access free FAFSA help through INvestEd Indiana at investedindiana.org.

Jackson County is located in the commission’s southeast region, and the Outreach Coordinator is Heather Cooper. She can be reached at [email protected] or 317-617-0329.

College Goal Sunday will take place Feb. 26 at 37 locations across Indiana. Students and families will be able to receive free one-on-one assistance with filing the FAFSA.

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