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New York Students, Advocates, and Allies Call for Universal FAFSA Policy

February 16, 2024

New York Students, Advocates, and Allies Call for Universal FAFSA Policy
NEW YORK – On February 15, students, advocates, allies, and members of the legislature joined forces to call for the passing of Universal FAFSA, Senate Bill S8148. This legislation would ensure that all high school seniors complete the FAFSA alongside the state aid application, the Tuition Assistance Program. This special briefing was hosted by uAspire, The Education Trust - New York, and Young Invincibles.

Speakers included New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes; New York State Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson; Bill DeBaun, senior director of data and strategic initiatives at the National College Attainment Network; Francesca Perrone, policy analyst and compliance specialist at the Hispanic Federation; Lori Roopnarine, network director of college placement at The Academy Charter School; Ian Rosenblum, senior vice chancellor for policy implementation and chief of staff at The State University of New York. The event featured student advocates T'Kai Harvey of CUNY Hunter College and Jacqueline Ordonez. 

Speakers highlighted that students who complete the FAFSA by the end of their high school year are 84% more likely to enroll in college, and, in 2023, eligible New York students left $200 million of federal aid on the table because they did not fill out the FAFSA.

“The research is clear: when more students fill out the FAFSA, more students attend college because they’ve learned they can actually afford it," said State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “With this simple bill, we can show all students that the door to a more prosperous future is unlocked and put them in a position to fling that door open."

State Assemblymember Brian Cunningham added, “I’m proud to sponsor A.8340, which will help ease the financial burden facing SUNY and CUNY applicants by waiving one application fee for students who apply for federal financial aid.”

uAspire’s New York Policy Director Melissa Clarke emphasized, “We must implement policy initiatives that put students' needs first. This is an investment not only in our students but also in our schools through increased funding for college counselors, financial aid training, and student and family support.”

“Every year, students in New York leave hundreds of millions of dollars on the table that could be used to further their postsecondary educational opportunities,” said National College Attainment Network Senior Director Bill DeBaun. “Universal FAFSA encourages as many students as possible to be aware of the federal financial aid for which they are eligible. Too many students from low-income backgrounds continue to see postsecondary education as an unattainable dream; universal FAFSA could change that.” 

The briefing was concluded by T’Kai Harvey, a former uAspire Student Policy Fellow and sophomore at CUNY Hunter College, who called on the legislature to co-sponsor the bill to ensure New York’s students of color, first-generation students, and students from low-income backgrounds can access financial aid and postsecondary opportunities.

For more information about universal FAFSA policies, visit