New Jersey Mandates Financial Aid Application Completion for High School Graduation
MORRISTOWN, NJ, January 17, 2024 – In a move aimed at expanding access to higher education, Governor Phil Murphy has signed into law A1181/S2054, requiring public high school and charter school students in New Jersey to complete a financial aid application as a graduation prerequisite. Starting with the 2023-2024 academic year, 11th-grade students, along with their guardians, must submit either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the NJ Alternative Financial Aid Application to qualify for a high school diploma.
Bridging the Education Access Gap
The law, guided by the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) in collaboration with the Commissioner of Education, aims to ensure students are aware of and can access state and federal educational resources. HESAA will provide resources, including webinars and guidance documents, to educate families and schools on completing these applications.
Implementation and Support
School districts will annually inform students and guardians about this requirement, with provisions for waivers in certain situations. David J. Socolow, HESAA Executive Director, emphasized the role of financial aid in understanding the true costs of postsecondary education and its impact on social and economic mobility. Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner of Education, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the initiative's role in promoting equal educational opportunities.
Legislative Backing and Perspectives
Spearheaded by Senator Shirley Turner and former Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, the bill also received support from Senator Robert Singer, Senator Britnee Timberlake, and Assemblyman Bill Moen. The legislators emphasized the importance of this measure in reducing student loan debt and expanding college and trade school accessibility, particularly for low- and middle-income students.
This legislation marks New Jersey's commitment to making postsecondary education more attainable. It addresses the often-overlooked hurdle of financial literacy in navigating aid applications. By ensuring that students complete these forms, the state aims to unlock educational opportunities for many who might otherwise consider higher education beyond their reach.
HESAA plans to expand support for students and families in this process. High schools are encouraged to collaborate with HESAA for effective implementation, ensuring every student is aware and equipped to take this critical step toward their future education.
For further information on FAFSA and the NJ Alternative Financial Aid Application, interested parties can visit HESAA's Financial Aid Hub.