California high school graduates are now required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as part of their college applications.
The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) has started to notify college applicants about the FAFSA requirement ahead of the University of California (UC) application deadline at the end of this month. The FAFSA mandate was passed by the California State Congress in 2021 and has been effective since last year.
According to the new legislation, prospective college students from any of the state’s 1,200 high schools must submit either the FAFSA or the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) for undocumented students when they apply.
A recent CSAC report indicates that 74.2% of high school seniors who started college this spring complied with the new mandate and applied for financial aid through the FAFSA or CADAA. This represents a 6.1 percentage point increase from 68.1% the year before. Applications submitted past the initial deadline numbered over 24,000.
In terms of FAFSA filings by state, California ranks 14th among the 50 states. At present, 12 states, including California and Louisiana, require mandatory FAFSA filing.
The report notes that in California, approximately $550 million in federal and state student aid goes unclaimed each year due to students not filing the FAFSA.
Regarding the Dream Act application, the report states that only 14% of undocumented students are currently receiving financial aid.
CSAC points out that in addition to federal and state grants, students who file the FAFSA may also be eligible for scholarships and other forms of financial aid. For this year, the Federal Pell Grant awards up to $7,395, while the state’s Cal Grant offers up to $13,000 for UC students and $6,000 for California State University (CSU) students.
The FAFSA, managed by the federal government, has been open for applications since October. However, due to revisions, including a reduced number of questions, students will be able to submit their applications online starting next month.
BY NICOLE CHANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]