November 27, 2012

New legislation on mandatory FAFSAs is up for debate next year

By Rae Hodge–

Filing your FAFSA may become a requirement for enrollment at Kentucky’s public universities.

According to the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, in their annual legislative preview, “Issues Confronting the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly,” requiring a FAFSA of every student at a public university may be up for debate by Kentucky’s legislature this spring.

Although no bills have been pre-filed on this issue, the LRC’s report holds that approximately 10 percent of Kentucky high school graduates in 2010 did not complete a FAFSA, one third of which would have qualified for a federal Pell Grant, a cornerstone of federal student assistance.

In a 2011 meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue Erin Klarer, Vice President of Government Relations for the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, stated that $486.5 million in Pell Grants were disbursed to students in Kentucky. Klarer also stated that that 51 percent (133,991) of students attending Kentucky postsecondary institutions received grant awards for the 2010–2011 school year.

The LRC report claims “Proponents of requiring FAFSA completion say it will improve access and persistence and will reduce financial burden by ensuring students receive all the aid for which they qualify.” The report claims proponents “also indicate mandatory completion will provide better and more data for analysis of college affordability and access issues and the effectiveness of the Commonwealth’s financial aid programs and policies.”

In opposition, the report says, are those who think “mandating FAFSA completion oversteps privacy boundaries for those who do not want to provide the personal financial information required on the FAFSA. Others are concerned that requiring students to complete the FAFSA will intimidate students and discourage them from attending college.”

With national student debt totals now surpassing credit card debt and tuition rates on the rise, many organizations are looking for ways to contain the cost of higher education on both state and national levels.


In June of this year, the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, in a presentation to the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, said that postsecondary student borrowing is growing at a rate four times greater than the state’s GDP.  In his presentation, Senior Vice President of the KHEAA Ted Franzeim, also said that at the current rates, the annual Kentucky student loan volume, or amount borrowed per year, will exceed one percent of the GDP in 2015; two percent in 2023; and three percent in 2029.

The Institute for College Access and Success, in their study, “Student Debt and the Class of 2010,” estimate that 58 percent of Kentucky students graduate with debt, at an average of $19,375 per student.

The 2013 session of the Kentucky General Assembly is scheduled to start Jan. 8 and the first meeting of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education in 2013 will be on Feb. 7.

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