Louisiana Will No Longer Require Students to Fill Out FAFSA to Graduate

High school seniors are more likely to attend college if they complete the federal financial aid form known as the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

But the state that was the first to require students to fill out the form to graduate, Louisiana, has reversed course and dropped the mandate, after state officials decided it was too intrusive. For now, Louisiana appears to be an outlier.

“I have not heard of other states considering repeal,” said Bill DeBaun, senior director of data and strategic initiatives with the National College Attainment Network, a nonprofit organization working to expand college access. (The network prefers to call such practices “universal FAFSA” policies, rather than “mandatory,” because all states with the requirement allow students and their parents to opt out if they don’t want to fill out the form.)

“We know FAFSA completion and enrollment are associated with each other,” Mr. DeBaun said. Filing the form allows students to get their share of federal grants.

At least 11 other states followed Louisiana’s lead and adopted similar policies or are scheduled to apply them in coming years, he said.

Unlike Louisiana, where education officials adopted the requirement as an administrative policy effective in 2018, many of the other states enacted it by law, so rescinding it would require legislative action, said Peter Granville, a fellow at the Century Foundation, a think tank, who studies federal and state efforts to increase college access and affordability.

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