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State proposes mandatory FAFSA application for high school seniors

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  • Staff Report 

Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed a new initiative aimed at expanding access to higher education in New York by requiring all high school seniors to apply for college financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The proposal seeks to demystify the college transition process and ensure students and their families are aware of the financial support available to them for higher education. Aydin O’Hearn, a high school guidance counselor, highlighted the importance of navigating the financial aspects of college preparation, noting the annual changes and challenges associated with FAFSA.

Despite the good response from students at Cambridge Central School, a significant amount of federal financial aid remains unclaimed in New York, with over $200 million left on the table due to uncompleted FAFSA applications. This ranks New York among the top states for unclaimed federal financial aid, underscoring the potential impact of making FAFSA submission a requirement for graduation.

The legislation’s future is uncertain, but guidance counselors like O’Hearn continue to emphasize the value of applying for financial aid to students and their families. The proposal addresses both the practical steps needed to access higher education funding and the broader challenge of overcoming misconceptions about the financial aid process. Whether or not the requirement becomes law, the effort to encourage more students to apply for FAFSA is seen as a crucial step towards increasing college attendance and affordability.