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Edgar Flores-Villalobos (CQ), 18, fills out a form for a scholarship as seniors at Garfield High Sc

Source: Anne Cusack / Getty

Every year as high school seniors prepare to attend college, schools and other advisors tell students to prep for financial aid and tap into existing resources to help pay for college. Now a new state law is helping students no longer leave money on the table.

When House Bill 3 was passed in regards to school finance reform, it also included a requirement that all high school students submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) form prior to their graduation. Students also have the option of filling out the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA) as well.

Those parties who choose not to apply for either federal or state aid have to submit a waiver signed by a parent or school counselor. One of the first classes in the state to fall under the new law is the high school graduating class of 2022. Students who apply for federal aid could become eligible for grants, scholarships, loans, study-abroad aid, work-study jobs or tax benefits. The completed form is what many colleges and universities use to determine aid they will provide to students.

A similar law passed in Louisiana, beginning with the high school graduating class of 2018. According to Syndi Dunn, press secretary with the Louisiana Department of Education, officials there say they have already seen benefits with the number of HS graduates who enrolled in college hitting an all-time high of 25,083 students, more than 1,500 graduates from 2017.

“We have pretty good evidence that when students and their families are helped with completing the FAFSA-that by getting more grant aid, they are less likely to take out the larger amounts of debt,” Jerel Booker, an assistant commissioner for college readiness and success with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board said. “These types of policies have the potential to help students with their debt burden.”

An advisory committee will present plans to the state Legislature by January 2021 about tracking and enforcing the new law.

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