House to examine bill to set aside class time to fill out FAFSA

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House to examine bill to set aside class time to fill out FAFSA
By Matt Maccaro, WV MetroNews

A bill passed by the House Education Committee last Friday would make it a priority for high school students to learn how to properly fill out the FAFSA form.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for the state Higher Education Policy Commission Dr. Adam Green said the bill would set aside class time for completion of the form.

“This really puts an emphasis on allowing instructional time in the high schools for students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Here at the commission and the council, we’re very supportive of that.”

Green said that since 2012, when an effort to encourage the form’s completion was ramped up, the numbers have improved steadily from 49 percent up to 57 percent. But he said that number still leaves a lot of room to improve.

“57 percent completed the FAFSA, which means 43 percent didn’t out of our high school seniors,” he said.

Even though college is cheaper in the Mountain State than many of the surrounding states, financial aid is still crucial, Green said.

“One good thing is West Virginia is still, compared to our neighboring states, much more affordable,” Green said. “However, college is expensive, and that can be a barrier. If families begin planning earlier, (they’d know) what they’re eligible for.”

According to a 2013 report done by 24/7 Wall St., West Virginia had the sixth-cheapest average college tuition rate in the country, with an average cost of about $6,200 a year for in-state students.

The bill also includes a provision on teaching students about the handling of personal finance, which would be introduced into state curriculum.