Legislation sponsored by Senator Bob Singer that would require students to complete financial aid applications to receive their high school diploma was approved by the Senate Education Committee.
"The student financial aid crisis is growing by the minute and students applying to colleges need all the assistance they can get," said Singer (R-30)."Requiring students to complete financial aid applications as a prerequisite for graduation could make students more knowledgeable about their financial aid options. This legislation could make applying to colleges less strenuous for students, and their families, and could help applicants secure additional grants and scholarships."
Senator Singer's amended bill, A-1181/S-2054, establishes that students, or their parent or guardian, must submit a financial aid application in a form prescribed by the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESSA) as a prerequisite to receive their high school diploma from a public and charter school.
The amended bill also directs the Executive Director of HESSA, in consultation with the Commissioner of Education, to provide certain resources and instructions to parents, students, and school districts to help complete financial aid applications.
A student may be exempt from the requirement if they submit a signed waiver from their parent or guardian requesting an exemption or obtain appropriate authorization from their school counselor. Students that are at least 18 years old may submit an exemption request on their own.
These requirements, as prescribed under the bill, would begin with the 2022-2023 grade 11 class and extend for the next two years thereafter.
"When students receive more financial aid through scholarships and grants they free themselves from having to take out excessive loans that may take decades to repay," Singer added. "This mandate could help empower students to make more informed financial decisions when applying to colleges."