SB 223 – Free Application for Federal Student Aid
Authored by Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg)
Co-authored by Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) and Sen. David Niezgodski (D-South Bend)

The bill would require Indiana high school seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) unless: 1) the student’s parent signs a waiver that the student understands what the FAFSA is and declines to complete it; or 2) the student’s principal waives the requirement due to extenuating circumstances.

Chamber position: Support

The latest: Passed by the Senate this week 38-12; the bill now moves on to the House.

Indiana Chamber action/commentary: Indiana’s workforce is increasingly dependent on individuals with postsecondary skills and credentials. Indeed, 99% of jobs created in the U.S. since the last recession have required at least some education and training beyond high school.

Senate Bill 223, a Chamber priority measure, could assist with skilling up Hoosiers. The bill aims to increase student awareness and access to grants and scholarships that can help Hoosiers earn industry-recognized credentials and degrees with reduced or no debt. Completing the FAFSA qualifies students for a variety of need- and merit-based aid programs available from the state and federal government, colleges, community foundations and other sources.

For many students, particularly those from low- and middle-income families, the decision to continue their education beyond high school is often based on whether they think they can afford it. State data show students from these backgrounds are the least likely file the FAFSA, either due to a lack of understanding on how to navigate the process or misconceptions about their aid eligibility.

We are encouraged that this legislation passed the Senate (after a similar bill died in that chamber last year), and we will work to maintain that momentum as it moves on to House lawmakers.

Resource: Jason Bearce at (317) 264-6880 or email: [email protected]