FAFSA requirement advances to Senate

The acronym for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form isn’t the easiest one to pronounce. Some say “FAFSA,” others “FASFA,” with a few pronunciations falling somewhere in between.

No matter how they say it, all Kentucky public high school seniors would be required to complete and submit the free application as a state graduation requirement beginning in the 2021-2022 school year under a bill that today cleared the state House.

Students who choose not to file the application as required by House Bill 87 could have their parent or guardian file a signed local school board-issued “noncompletion waiver” form on their behalf, or they could file the waiver themselves if they are at least age 18. Students who are unable to submit an application or a noncompletion waiver may be eligible for a hardship waiver per policy that would be developed by the local school board.

Homeschool students would be specifically exempt from the bill’s requirements, should they choose not to participate.

HB 87 sponsor and House Education Committee Chair Regina Huff, R-Williamsburg, said the requirement would be a “companion piece” to the ACT college admission test, which is already a requirement for public high school juniors statewide.

“This has a direct correlation to academics and the child’s (ability) to prosper,” said Huff. “Adding this piece is just a component to develop on the ACT scores.”

Rep. Tina Bojanowski, D-Louisville, voted against the bill. The Louisville educator said that she has filled out the FAFSA for her children for several years and is concerned that HB 87 would set up a requirement for parents, not students.

“My concern will this bill is that we’re putting a requirement on students for graduation that requires the parents to participate, and I don’t think that’s an appropriate graduation requirement,” said Bojanowski.

Supporting HB 87 was Rep. James Tipton, R-Taylorsville. Tipton said the bill is “another tool” for students and their families to explore financial aid options.

“We know that we need people who have the skills in our workforce going forward, and this is just another tool that I think will help our young people be able to succeed in life,” he said.

HB 87 advanced to the Senate on a 48-33 vote.