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New state graduation rule to impact Class of 2022

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT -- Feb. 10, 2021) — Attention members of the Class of 2022: Starting next year, a new Texas law will require you complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to graduate from high school.  

EPISD counselors are informing all juniors of the state requirement to ensure that all parents and students are aware and meet the new requirement at the beginning of the next school year. Students can complete the TASFA if they cannot apply for FAFSA to meet the state requirement. 

FAFSA is an online Federal financial aid application that is completed by prospective college-bound students to determine the student’s eligibility for financial aid.  Many states and colleges across the country use FAFSA data and information to award state and institutional aid.  

“By competing a FAFSA, students can access federal dollars that they thought they weren’t eligible for,” said Manny Castruita, EPISD director of counseling and advising. “It’s a great benefit.  Each year, there are funds that go untapped.” 

Juniors, and their parents, can get a jump start on the state requirement now by creating their Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID, which is required to begin the FAFSA application process. It is highly recommended that students, and at least one parent, have their respective FSA IDs set up prior to the upcoming fall semester. 

In October and November, high schools will offer a FAFSA Night workshops for families to access and complete the online FAFSA application with the assistance of counselors and volunteers with the knowledge about the process.

“The FAFSA Nights Committee members walk the students through the FAFSA application process,” said Heidi Granger, Assistant Vice President of Student Financial Services at UTEP. “Creating an FSA ID is what can take a lot of time. If students and parents come to the FAFSA Night without their FSA ID, it slows down the process – as families will be spending a portion of their time creating the ID, instead of getting the benefit of the entire FAFSA Night workshop.” 

Granger works closely with school districts and students during the FAFSA Nights. 

“We want to reach as many students as possible,” Granger said. “Students should complete and submit the FAFSA regardless of whether they think they are eligible for financial aid or not. Many families believe they may not be eligible to receive grant assistance, but that may be untrue.  The FAFSA is also used to determine eligibility for Federal Work-Study and student loans. We explain the available types of funding, and so much more, during the FAFSA Nights to help ensure students apply.” 

The new State graduation requirement will have a few exceptions.  These will be announced at a later date.

Story by Reneé de Santos