State & local efforts promote access to college
By Maria Arevalo
In 2019, the 86th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3 with the aim of increasing college enrollment among graduates. As part of the initiative, students must now complete FAFSA and TASFA student aid forms or opt-out of the financial aid process in order to graduate high school.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is an application that students and parents fill out in order to receive state or federal aid. Undocumented or DACA students may fill out the TASFA (Texas Application for State Financial Aid) in hopes of receiving state funding.
Most students who qualify for state or federal aid are from low-economic backgrounds or are first-generation students. Thus, HB 3 has the potential to increase diversity and inclusion within college enrollment.
Only 20% of students in McLennan County have completed their financial aid application, according to Educate Texas.
McLennan County has taken great steps to increase this percentage. The MAC College Money Program has hosted financial aid workshops for high schools across the county. The College Achievement Program (CAP), as part of VOICE, is assisting schools by meeting with students individually to complete their financial aid forms.
In February, a community-wide financial aid night event will be held to assist parents and students with the process of applying for financial aid. Through community initiatives, students and parents will have the resources available to complete their financial aid process and meet this graduation requirement.
Maria Arevalo is director of post-secondary education initiatives for Prosper Waco.