REPORT: LOUISIANA GRADUATES COULD GAIN $54 MILLION IN FINANCIAL AID

Dec 11, 2014

Only 44 Percent of Seniors Complete FAFSA Required for College and Technical Training

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education today presented a
report during a Joint Meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the Board of Regents showing only 44 percent of public high school seniors in the state complete for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is for all forms of federal financial aid, including Pell grants, work study programs, and federal student loans available to students to aid in the cost of education and technical training beyond high school. It is also required for Louisiana graduates to achieve TOPS and TOPS Tech scholarships, which can also be used for college and technical training. By not completing the FAFSA, Louisiana students forego roughly $54 million a year in federal grants, state opportunities, and other funding for post-secondary education, not to mention TOPS eligibility.

“By 2018, 51 percent of jobs in Louisiana will require some sort of post-secondary education, including technical training. Louisiana jobs should be filled by Louisiana graduates,” said State Superintendent John White. “While no family should be required to complete the FAFSA, all families and students should have every opportunity to complete it. Louisiana can take a positive step toward developing a more competitive and diverse workforce by encouraging more students to offset the costs of pursuing the necessary post-secondary education and technical training.”

Most graduates are eligible to receive some form financial aid. A Tulane University Cowen Institute
report estimates that during the 2011-2012 school year, more than 90 percent of the most economically disadvantaged students, such as those students from families with annual incomes of less than $40,000 a year, received some form of financial aid if they filed a FAFSA.

During the 2012-2013 school year, the U.S. Department of Education began releasing high school-level FAFSA completion data. The findings in today’s report include:
 

  • Since 2012-2013, the national FAFSA completion rate was 55 percent.
  • Louisiana’s 2012-2013 FAFSA completion rates for all schools was 50 percent, but fell to 44 percent for just public high schools.
  • In 2012, Louisiana ranked 49th for percentage of people living below the poverty line. In 2013, Louisiana ranked 44th in the nation for median household income. This suggests a larger percentage of Louisiana students would likely be eligible for financial aid than students in more affluent states.
  • National Center for Education Studies show the average grant and work fund award received by a FAFSA applicant is $12,430. If Louisiana’s completion rate was equal to the national average of 55 percent, an additional 4,361 students would have received federal financial aid, resulting in approximately an additional $54 million in aid to pay for post-secondary education and technical training.


"Access to public higher education leads to a better quality of life, including higher salaries, for our students,” said Dr. Joseph Rallo, newly appointed Commissioner for Higher Education. “Although Louisiana's universities remain affordable compared to institutions in other states, federal funds are still available to help defray these costs. Completing the FAFSA form is a student’s first step towards securing a better future."

“Federal financial aid, and the Pell Fund in particular, is one of the primary resources available for solving the workforce demands of Louisiana. Unfortunately, federal financial aid funds have traditionally been under-utilized by the very populations that need access to post-secondary education the most,” said Dr. Monty Sullivan, President of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. “Louisiana’s community and technical colleges applaud the work done as part of this report and are excited about the strong partnerships with our K-12 colleagues as we work jointly with industry partners to solve the workforce challenges of Louisiana.”

"It is unacceptable that as a state our numbers are far below the national average. More importantly, however, leaving $54 million on the federal table that will help our students is a problem we all must unite to rectify,” said Dr. F. King Alexander, LSU President and Chancellor.

To read the report on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid presented during the Joint Meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Regents, please click
here.

For more information on submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, please click
here.
 

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