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Alabama Workforce Council praises rule mandating student action on financial aid

Nearly $50 million in federal tuition assistance goes unused by young Alabamians each year.

STOCK

The Alabama State Board of Education voted on Thursday to require high school seniors to complete or opt out of the Free Application for Student Aid before they graduate. That will steer more money to young Alabamians embarking on career paths, according to the Alabama Workforce Council.

“This change will help more Alabamians get assistance they need for workforce training and prepare for a career pathway in a good-paying job,” said Tim McCartney, the organization’s chairman, in a statement. “Federal Pell Grants are a key part of Alabama’s workforce development as more than 36 percent of these grants are awarded for certificate and associate degree programs. Yet in Alabama, $47 million in Pell Grants go unclaimed by students each year because they didn’t apply. Think of how much Alabama would benefit from an additional $47 million invested into job training and education.”

McCartney’s group is made up of business executives from the state’s most important industries. It works to develop Alabama’s workforce to be more competitive.

The rule will go into effect for seniors graduating in 2022. It requires local education agencies to help parents and students complete the application.

It allows parents or students to decline the FAFSA, and allows school superintendents to waive the requirement if that’s recommended by a school’s guidance counselor.

Micah Danney is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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