Pennsylvania senators vote to require all high school seniors to fill out financial aid form

Rows of lockers in a New Jersey high school. (Photo by James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images)

High school seniors in Pennsylvania would be required to fill out a form that determines eligibility for financial aid for postsecondary programs under a bill passed by the state Senate on Wednesday.

The bill was approved 46-4 and was sent to the state House for its consideration.

The measure would mandate that high school seniors across the state complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA determines a student’s financial need and eligibility for federal, state and school financial aid to enroll in higher education, career, and technical education and certificate programs.

The federal form calculates need based on information families provide about income and assets, plus other factors, like family size.

Families would be able to opt out of the requirement, sponsors said. If passed by the House, the requirement would take effect in the 2024-25 school year.


The completion rate for the federal aid application in Pennsylvania is currently 53%, the bill's sponsors said, and students who complete the form are more likely to enroll in postsecondary programs.

Backers of the proposal say that more than $115 million in federal Pell Grant funds were unclaimed in Pennsylvania in 2021.

At least nine other states have laws requiring completion of the federal application.

"Too many families in Pennsylvania miss out on chances to train for quality careers simply because they don’t know what programs or funding packages are available to them, or because they think they can’t afford it," said the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Scott Martin, a Republican from Lancaster County.