Filing for federal financial aid soon to be required for high schoolers, including those in Keller, Northwest ISDs

Image description
The cost of college continues to increase, but too often, financial aid officials say, students fail to tap into existing resources, resulting in money left on the table. A new state law could help.

Included in House Bill 3, which focused on school finance reform, is a requirement that all high school students submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid—or FAFSA—form prior to graduating. Students will also have the option of filling out the Texas Application for State Financial Aid instead.

Those who choose not to apply for either federal or state aid must submit a waiver signed by a parent or school counselor. Northwest and Keller ISD sophomores who graduate in 2022 will be among the first classes in the state to fall under the new law.

A lot of people believe the biggest reason students are not going to college is costs, said Jerel Booker, assistant commissioner for college readiness and success with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

But students who apply for federal aid could become eligible for grants, scholarships, loans, study-abroad aid, work-study jobs or tax benefits. Many colleges and universities also use the completed form to determine the financial aid they will provide to students.


Bobby Morris is the director of college and career readiness for Northwest ISD. He said his department fields many questions from parents and students about financial aid.

It may seem stressful initially, Morris said, but it could potentially open doors for the future.

“It lets the students know that there’s money available to them because we have, so often, students who think that college is not an option because they don’t have the finances to go there,” he said. “And FAFSA helps them see that maybe they do qualify for a Pell Grant, or maybe they do qualify for some aid from a college.”

STUDENT RESOURCES

NISD high schools provide resources at their on-campus information centers, where students can seek guidance. Representatives from institutions, such as Texas Tech and Texas Woman’s universities, will appear on campuses to provide information. College students from the University of North Texas are available at Northwest High School on certain days to give advice, Morris said.

In October, the KISD school board approved an agreement with The University of Texas at Arlington to start a similar program beginning in January.

“It’s really to provide access for students to post-secondary education,” said Jennifer Todd, director of guidance and counseling for KISD.

EDUCATION AND FAFSA

Louisiana was the first state to pass a similar law. It began with the graduating class of 2018. Louisiana officials said they have already seen benefits.

In 2018, the number of high school graduates in Louisiana who enrolled in college hit an all-time high of 25,083 students—increasing by about 1,500 graduates from the previous year, according to an email from Sydni Dunn, press secretary with the Louisiana Department of Education.

In Texas, an advisory committee will present plans to the state Legislature by January 2021 about tracking and enforcing the law.

“We have pretty good evidence that when students and their families are helped with completing the FAFSA—that by getting more grant aid, they are less likely to take out the larger amounts of debt,” Baker said. “These types of policies have the potential to help students with their debt burden.”

Liesbeth Powers contributed to this report.

Renee Yan - Cassidy Ritter



MOST RECENT

54th Street Grill opened in McKinney in August. (Courtesy 54th Street Grill)
54th Street Grill opens in McKinney and more DFW-area news

Read the latest community and business news from the DFW area.

MadiJaks is now open in Roanoke. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
Women's boutique MadiJaks now open in Roanoke

Women's boutique MadiJaks opened Aug. 1 in downtown Roanoke.

Tarrant County Public Health has confirmed 305 new cases of novel coronavirus in the county in the past 24 hours. (Community Impact staff)
Tracking COVID-19: Keller-Roanoke-Northeast Fort Worth ZIP codes averaging 8 new cases per day

As of Aug. 10, the level of community spread of COVID-19 remains "substantial" in Tarrant County, according to public health officials.

Richardson Bike Mart has about 11,000 bicycles on back order. (File photo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Richardson shop has 11,000 bicycles on back order and more DFW news

Read the latest Dallas-Fort Worth business and community news.

Thirteen drive-thru grocery stores operated by the Salvation Army of North Texas are offering backpacks filled with supplies. (Courtesy Salvation Army)
Salvation Army expands North Texas grocery service locations to include school supplies, protective equipment

Backpacks filled with school supplies, personal protective equipment, financial assistance resources and U.S. Census forms will be available at the 13 existing locations.

Cottonwood Creek Trail features platforms for viewing wildlife and fishing in Cottonwood Creek. (Courtesy Visit Frisco)
Trails system in Frisco expands and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the DFW area.

Rapid nasal swab antigen tests are recommended as options for individuals who were potentially exposed to a confirmed positive carrier, as well as for people traveling, returning to work or undergoing a medical procedure. (Courtesy Total Primary Care)
Find out where to get a 15-minute COVID-19 test in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth metros

Rapid nasal swab antigen tests are recommended as options for individuals who were potentially exposed to a confirmed positive carrier, as well as for people traveling, returning to work or undergoing a medical procedure.

A PNC Bank-Alliance location is coming soon to the Presidio Crossing shopping center in Northeast Fort Worth. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
PNC Bank location coming soon to Presidio Crossing in Northeast Fort Worth

A PNC Bank will occupy the former building of El Pollo Tropical at 2601 N. Tarrant Parkway.

According to city officials, the city of Roanoke irrigation ordinance limits outdoor watering for all customers using an irrigation system or sprinkler to a maximum of two days per week. (Renee Yan/Community Impact Newspaper)
City of Roanoke irrigation ordinance in effect

Officials with the city of Roanoke are reminding area residents to limit outdoor watering during summer months.

A mother and daughter visit at Seasons Assisted Living & Memory Care in Conroe earlier in the pandemic. (Courtesy Seasons Assisted Living & Memory Care)
Texas allows limited visitations to nursing homes, long-term care facilities

Facilities that meet the requirements will allow limited visitations, but you still will not be able to hug or kiss your loved one.

SweetStop bakery holds grand opening in Richardson and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.