A bill that would require students at public schools to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid advanced to the Indiana House after lawmakers approved the measure in a Senate vote Tuesday.
Senate Bill 54 cleared the upper chamber on a 27-20 vote.
Under the plan authored by Republican Sen. Jean Leising, high school seniors would be required to fill out a FAFSA form unless a parent or school administrator signs a waiver.
Because the Indiana Commission for Higher Education digitally tracks which students have completed the federal aid application, Leising said schools can easily monitor submission progress online.
“We really need to do this in Indiana because we’re not ranking well,” Leising said Tuesday, adding that Indiana ranks 32nd in the country for student FAFSA completion.
Only 60% of Indiana’s 2020 high school graduates completed a FAFSA form, according to the National College Attainment Network. Leising said that left more than $70 million in potential federal aid unclaimed by Hoosier learners.
The Commission for Higher Education, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and multiple Indiana colleges have supported the bill.
Similar measures have been adopted in Louisiana, Texas and Illinois. Leising noted those laws have caused FAFSA participation rates to “increase significantly.”