Proposed Missouri bill would make filling out FAFSA graduation requirement

Proposed Bill Would Require High School Seniors to Fill Out FAFSA
Proposed Bill Would Require High School Seniors to Fill Out FAFSA(WGEM)
Updated: Feb. 24, 2022 at 4:50 AM CST
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QUINCY (WGEM) - A bill moving through the Missouri legislature could require high school students to fill out FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid before they graduate.

According to the National College Attainment Network, Missouri students who graduated in 2021 missed out on $71,388,901 in total Pell Grant funding.

Advocates of Senate Bill 703 hope to motivate students to fill out the application.

Hannibal High School guidance director Jo Ann McCollum said she had not yet reviewed the proposal, but she knows the FAFSA can be overwhelming for some students.

She said while the federal government has made the application slightly easier to fill out, such as making it easier for parents to find their IRS records to submit, many students still see it as an extra chore.

“Sometimes families will think that they don’t qualify for something, but we encourage them to fill it out anyway because there are times when there may be a grant or a interest free loan through a school that they might not have known about that they qualify for,” McCollum said.

McCollum says the school has access to a database that allows them to see who has filled out the FAFSA and who hasn’t. She said they host sessions where they help families fill out the FAFSA. The school also encourages students to make appointments if they need help filling out the application or have any questions.

Culver-Stockton College associate director of financial aid Patti Mathieson said that it’s hard to motivate students, both high school and college, to fill out the FAFSA because they think it’s too complicated or time consuming.

She said not filling out the FAFSA means that students not only miss out on federal and state money, but also financial aid and scholarships from colleges as well.

“We want to know who’s coming here, we want to know what financial aid we have as a whole to give out to students,” she said. “We’re spending a certain amount of money. We need to know and start shaping that information and shaping that class coming in.”

Mathieson said some colleges use the FAFSA as a way to determine how much financial aid students need, whether that be in the the form of loans, grants, or scholarships.

Mathieson encourages students to fill out the FAFSA even if you miss the state deadlines as colleges deadlines can vary and there’s always chances to get some form of aid.

Matheson said the FAFSA deadline in Missouri was February 1 but there is another deadline on April 1 as that’s when the state reevaluates how much money they have left over and can open up more opportunities.

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