FAFSA No Longer a Graduation Requirement in Louisiana: A Shift in Education Policy

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

The state of Louisiana has made a significant policy change by deciding that high school students are no longer required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as a condition for graduation. This decision comes at a time when many students and families are still awaiting official financial aid offers due to a botched FAFSA update.

The Changing Landscape of FAFSA Policies

While Louisiana has chosen to lift the FAFSA requirement, several other states continue to tie this federal financial aid process to graduation. States including Illinois, Alabama, Texas, California, Indiana, and New Hampshire require students to complete the FAFSA in order to graduate. Moreover, Connecticut, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Oklahoma have plans to impose this requirement beginning with the class of 2025, and Kansas will follow suit in 2028.

In New York, new legislation mandates that school districts ensure students complete federal or state financial aid forms, or sign a waiver indicating their decision not to pursue such aid. However, in contrast to Louisiana, students’ graduation status will not be affected by their decision to fill out the form or opt out.

Financial Aid Delays Concern High School Seniors

The recent update to the FAFSA system has resulted in significant delays in financial aid offers. With the traditional May 1 college commitment deadline fast approaching, many students and their families are left in limbo. A recent survey by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators revealed that fewer than half of colleges had sent out aid offers to some or all accepted students, and 44 percent had not begun packaging offers at all. In response to this challenge, some schools have extended their commitment deadlines to allow students more time to review offers.

College Costs and the Burden of Student Debt

The ongoing controversy surrounding FAFSA and financial aid comes amid increasing concern about student debt and the escalating cost of college education. The average published cost for tuition, fees, housing, and meals at a four-year private college for the 2023-24 school year stood at $56,190, as compared to approximately $24,000 for an in-state student at a public college, as per the College Board. The cost of attending some private colleges is expected to soon reach a staggering $100,000 per year.

While most students do not pay the full “sticker” price due to financial aid and discounts, the burden of student debt remains a significant concern. Thus, while Louisiana’s decision to no longer require FAFSA completion for graduation may seem counterintuitive, it reflects the ongoing complexities and challenges surrounding financial aid in the United States, and the broader debate about the affordability of higher education.