New Jersey Will Now Require High Schoolers to Apply for College Financial Aid to Graduate

All New Jersey 11th-grade students must complete federal or state financial aid forms to receive their high school diplomas.
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Published on January 29, 2024
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  • Students who are at least 18 years old, parents, guardians, or counselors can sign a waiver to exempt students from filling out financial aid applications to graduate.
  • The bill will stay active for the next two school years.
  • The 2024-25 Simplified FAFSA was officially released Jan. 8 and is open until June 30, 2025.

New Jersey high school juniors now have to fill out financial aid applications to complete high school.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill this month that requires 2023-2024 11th-grade students to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or N.J. Alternative Financial Aid Application to graduate high school. The bill will stay active through the next two school years.

"There are many state and federal resources available to graduating high school students to help make a college education more affordable," Murphy said in a press release.

"Without filling out important applications, students could unknowingly be leaving money on the table that could have enabled them to pursue higher education. Ensuring high school students understand their options is paramount to our goal of making a college degree more attainable for New Jersey residents."

Undocumented students cannot get federal financial aid. But they can fill out the N.J. Alternative Financial Aid Application and apply for other state financial aid.

Completed aid applications are not required for graduation if the New Jersey student (at least 18 years old), a parent, guardian, or counselor signs a waiver.

New Jersey school districts will remind students, parents, and guardians annually of the new requirement.

The U.S. Department of Education released the new 2024-25 FAFSA on Jan. 8 after a rocky soft launch and several delays. Students have until June 30, 2025, to submit the 2024-25 FAFSA.

Changes in the new Simplified FAFSA:

  • Shorter and more user-friendly: The previous form's 108 questions have been cut down to a maximum of 50 and could take as little as 10 minutes to complete.
  • "Expected Family Contribution" (EFC) is renamed "Student Aid Index": The FAFSA makes it clearer to families that the EFC amount is not what they're required to pay for college but an indicator of financial need.
  • Pell Grant eligibility will expand, and the max award will increase: Pell Grants do not need to be paid back. This year, students can receive a maximum Pell Grant of $7,395, up from $6,895 in 2022-23. A State Higher Education Executive Officers analysis projects that 42.9% of students previously ineligible for the Pell Grant may become eligible in the new Simplified FAFSA.