Pritzker fact check: College applications up because high schools now require them
Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently boasted Illinois was No. 1 for growth in high school applications for college aid. He failed to mention state law now makes students complete the application if they want to graduate.
Gov. J.B Pritzker is touting Illinois’ top increase in the percentage of high school students completing federal college aid applications, but he doesn’t bother mentioning they had no choice.
“Last year, only 3 states in the nation actually increased their high school FAFSA completion rates year over year. Who took the top slot? Illinois!” Pritzker tweeted March 3.
The growth is really attributed to a new state law requiring Illinois students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to graduate. The 2020-2021 school year was the first impacted by the mandate.
In a press release, Pritzker announced more than 400 high schools will receive a “recognition of excellence” banner honoring their completion rates.
Students can also fill out a waiver to opt-out, but virtually all students choose FAFSA for the chance at financial aid for college.
It’s great more students potentially have financial breathing room in pursuing a college education, but filling out forms mandated by the state is hardly something to brag about. That is, unless you are seeking reelection and hope nobody notices the embellishment.
Maybe the state should have changed their motto for the effort to: “Rock the FAFSA Illinois – or else.”