(INDIANAPOLIS) – The Senate will try for a third time to require that Indiana high school seniors fill out the federal college financial aid form.
The Commission for Higher Education says Indiana missed out last year on $65 million dollars in Pell Grants to attend college because two out of five students don’t apply. Associate commissioner Josh Garrison says application rates this year are running behind where they were two years ago, when the Senate first passed the bill.
Indiana Chamber vice president Jason Pearce requiring the form would encourage more students to pursue college who now may assume they can’t afford it. He says states which have made the form a requirement have not only seen college attendance rise, but graduation rates appear to have improved as well, perhaps because fewer students are dropping out for financial reasons.
Indiana’s associations of school boards and principals say they support encouraging more graduates to attend college, but they oppose Oldenburg Senator Jean Leising’s (R) bill. Indiana School Boards Association executive director Terry Spradlin warns the bill could pile more work on local schools, by forcing them to keep pestering parents who complete neither the application nor a form opting out of the requirement. And he says administrators would face a never-ending cycle of trying to figure out which students haven’t completed the form since the last check.
The Senate has passed the bill the last two years, and the Senate Education Committee unanimously advanced it again on Wednesday. Last year, the House passed its own version with the ISBA’s backing, which would have offered schools extra money as an incentive to enforce the requirement. House and Senate negotiators couldn’t reach agreement on a final version of the bill.