A sign for the University of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Ind.
PHOTO: WIBC

Senate Weighs Whether to Push to Require College Financial Aid Form

(INDIANAPOLIS) – Legislators are trying to decide how far to go to nudge more parents into completing the college financial aid form.

The House has voted to have the Department of Education send information to every school explaining the importance of the financial aid form, including the importance of a college degree in the job market. The bill calls on the department to set up a website asking parents to check a box saying whether they’ve filled out the form or not.

House Education Chairman Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) says Indiana has added more than 900-thousand jobs in the last year — but fewer than one-percent are open to people with only a high school diploma. He says Indiana can’t meet its workforce needs unless more graduates go to college.

The Senate voted last month for a third straight year to require parents to either fill out the form or opt out. Oldenburg Republican Jean Leising, the bill’s author, says the House version would be a step forward, but says she’d still prefer a more direct solution. She says she plans to talk with Behning in the next day or two to assess whether the votes are there in the House for the stronger version.

Leising and Behning both say the cost of college is a real or perceived obstacle preventing many Hoosiers from pursuing a degree. Leising says many parents discover when they fill out the form that they’re eligible for loans or scholarships they didn’t know their kids could get.

The Indiana School Boards Association supported the House version but opposed the Senate bill, contending the requirement would create a burden on schools to keep track of who’s filled out the form and who hasn’t.

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