The U.S. Department of Education has published the latest nationwide data on how many high school students have completed their FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Baton Rouge Magnet and Caddo Magnet High in Shreveport lead Louisiana schools in submitting the most applications. The vice president of the Louisiana Education Loan Authority (LELA) says it’s not surprising that two magnet schools are out ahead.
Tricia Dubroc’s nonprofit assists thousands of Louisiana families each year in completing the form. She says filling out the FAFSA is a leading indicator for whether a student is serious about going to college.
“If a school gets at least half of their seniors wanting to pursue a post-secondary education, I think that is actually considered a success. It’s unfortunate, but typically we see numbers of college-bound students in the 20 to 30 percent range,” Dubroc said.
LELA’s Christie Smith travels throughout north and central Louisiana parishes assisting students on their FAFSA. She meets with them at schools, libraries, even McDonalds. She says while the FAFSA has been streamlined in recent years, it still probes family dynamics that often aren’t clear cut.
“The students have so many different situations these days that we don’t have a cookie cutter answer for them,” Smith said. “I’m talking about primarily who they live with because they don’t necessarily live with mom and dad anymore.”
Smith recommends that parents should file their taxes before filling out the FAFSA, and do so early if they have a college-bound senior. Each state has a different deadline for completing the FAFSA.
College financial aid offices are very busy right now putting together aid packages, according to Smith. The FAFSA is the main form used to calculate aid eligibility and is required to receive a TOPS award in Louisiana.