Uplift Voices

Beginning with the high school class of 2022, it is now a state law in Texas that every graduating senior must fill out a FAFSA, TASFA, or sign an opt-out form to graduate. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and TASFA stands for Texas Application for State Financial Aid. Both are applications to see whether a student qualifies for loans, scholarships, grants, or work-study based on family income to apply toward higher education.  Many students qualify for PELL Grants through FAFSA, which is money that does not have to be repaid.  As the name suggests, it’s free to apply – but a lot of students don’t.  In 2018, only 55% of seniors filled out the FAFSA, leaving an estimated $2.6 million of unclaimed free money. 

Texas passed the law to encourage more of its graduates to pursue higher education.  “FAFSA money can provide a pathway to college for many students who might have thought they could not afford it,” said Daniel Gray, Managing Director of Road to College and Career at Uplift Education. “While grants through FAFSA or TASFA may not cover all college expenses, it opens up the option and eases the burden on families.” 

At Uplift Education, a Dallas-based, tuition free charter school network, the number of students who matriculate to college is directly proportional to how many fill out the FAFSA application, according to Gray.  “The more students that fill out the application, the more free money is awarded, and students and families figure out that college is possible,” said Gray.   

Here are some quick facts about FAFSA and TASFA: 

  • Every student should fill one out regardless of family income.  There is no income limit on the FAFSA. While some aid is based on financial need (such as subsidized loans and Pell Grants), other aid is not. 
  • While FAFSA applicants must be U.S. citizens, TASFA applicants do not have to be U.S. citizens to qualify for aid.  Students who do not qualify for FAFSA should fill out TASFA. 
  • FAFSA and TASFA money must be used at an accredited higher education institution. 
  • FAFSA and TASFA money is not paid directly to the student, but rather given to the college of your choice to apply toward your education costs. 

Uplift Education, the largest FREE charter school network in north Texas, has a dedicated Road To College and Career department on every high school campus devoted to helping its students navigate the college journey.  From selecting the right college to match a student’s academic, social, and family needs, to understanding college applications, financial aid, and career options, the counselors are dedicated to helping students achieve a bright future. The network has achieved 100% college acceptance for its graduates since 2002.  To learn more, visit uplifteducation.org 

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