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The Texas Financial Aid Requirement: Implementation and Successes

By: TxCAN   |   January 2023

Texas is in its second year of implementation of the financial aid requirement for all high school seniors. What does this mean? How have we done as a state and what successes and challenges are we hearing across the state? Below you will find answers to these questions and more.

In only one year of the financial aid requirement implementation, Texas rose to 5th place in FAFSA submissions across the country! Texas is currently in its second year of implementation of the financial aid requirement for all high school seniors. What does this mean? How have we done as a state and what challenges and successes are we hearing across the state? Below you will find answers to these questions and more.  

A Brief Background 

The Texas Financial Aid Requirement was first introduced by State Representative Victoria Neave as a way to improve student outcomes in the state of Texas. The policy was then added to House Bill 3, a sweeping and historic school finance bill that was passed by the 86th Texas Legislature in 2019.  

 The Texas Education Code requires students enrolled in 12th grade to complete one of the following in order to graduate: 

  • Complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); 
  • Complete and submit a Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA); or 
  • Submit a signed opt-out form (English/Spanish

This new requirement not only impacted students but counselors as well, who were now tasked with keeping track of FAFSA/TASFA completion and opt-out waiver submissions for their respective schools.  


The Texas Education Agency (TEA) created resources to help schools with this financial aid requirement including video tutorials, a website dedicated to the requirement, and toolkits for counselors/advisors, school districts, and open-enrollment charter schools.  TxCAN partnered with UAspire and Texas OnCourse to provide financial aid training to over 745 practitioners across the state. Additionally, TxCAN shared resources via newsletters and blogs.  

So how did the state of Texas fare compared to other states in financial aid application completion after this big change? In the first year of implementation (21-22), FAFSA completion rates began to recover from the pandemic drop and growth occurred and returned Texas above pre-pandemic levels. Texas placed 5th in the nation for FAFSA completion for the 2021-2022 school year. This is a huge win! We applaud our practitioners across the state who made this growth happen! 

 Success Stories 

There are four success stories TxCAN wants to highlight and share with you. Rural Student Success Initiative (RSSI) and Dallas County Promise had huge success through strategic partnerships. Grand Prairie ISD and Aldine ISD similarly saw success with their financial aid requirement implementation by leveraging additional advising supports for their counselors.  


It is worth taking a look at other nonprofit organizations doing college access work in your community and reaching out for potential collaborations. What spaces are parents already frequenting in your neighborhoods? What organizations have strong parent engagement? You do not have to do this work alone. Here, we highlight the impact Rural Student Success Initiative (RSSI) and Dallas County Promise made through strategic partnerships. 

RSSI partnered with local churches to host financial aid workshops. Using a faith-based organization allowed for greater parent engagement. Parents had a safe space that they trusted to navigate challenging conversations that financial aid processing can sometimes bring.  

Similarly, the Dallas County Promise team partnered with ImmSchools, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting undocumented families and students. ImmSchools provided training to school districts regarding the unique financial aid processes undocumented students must complete.  Dallas County Promise wanted to ensure that their districts were adequately prepared to support ALL students with their financial aid needs.   


We know counselors have a lot on their plates. Capacity is limited and adding a financial aid requirement may sometimes feel overwhelming. That is why Grand Prairie ISD and Aldine ISD both strategically delegated and sought support for their counselors in preparation for the implementation of the financial aid requirement.  

To support counselor’s capacity, Grand Prairie ISD dedicated a district office phone line for families and seniors to call and obtain an opt-out form for the financial aid requirement. During the phone call, the central office staff would explain the requirement to the family and the benefits of completing a financial aid application. Additionally, they would discuss the resources available to them for completing the form. Oftentimes, families stated they did not previously understand the requirement and that this conversation provided them with the clarity they needed to complete the financial aid application instead.  

Aldine ISD recruited their government teachers to increase capacity for the financial aid requirement. They provided substitute teachers for the government teachers’ classrooms while they took a day of school to attend a financial aid UAspire training. Aldine ISD used the FAFSA component of the government course TEKS to ensure this training aligned with class priorities. After completing their training, government teachers were then given FAFSA completion data for their classes so that they could follow up with their students and help facilitate FAFSA completion within their student caseload.  

Strategic advising supports, like the ones shared above, are important for creating whole-school advising models. You want to build a school community where multiple staff members are equipped to support students with their higher education goals in addition to the counselors. 

What is Happening Now & What is Coming Next 

The 2022-23 school year marks the second year of the financial aid requirement implementation. TxCAN once again completed 6 financial aid trainings in partnership with UAspire and Texas OnCourse in Fall 2022 with over 831 participants! Those training sessions were attended by counselors, advisors, program managers, teachers, and coaches. Even in the second year of implementation, it is clear that the state of Texas is actively engaged in growing and learning more. As of November 4th, we already saw a 9% percent increase in FAFSA submissions from last year.  And currently, the state of Texas is 7th place in FAFSA submission across the country! 

While we are excited to see what Texas has done and accomplished thus far we know that there is more on the horizon that will impact financial aid completion in the future. FAFSA Simplification is coming next year and we know all counselors and advisors will need to be retrained and prepared to support students navigating the updated platform.  

TxCAN is mindful of the ongoing challenges and changes counselors and advisors are facing with the financial aid requirement. COVID-19 brought with it learning loss and socioemotional trauma, from which our communities are still actively recovering. Capacity is a continued concern for counselors statewide with many competing priorities asking for their attention. We hope the success stories we shared can help you start thinking about ways you can strategize for Year 3 of the financial aid requirement implementation. It is not too early to start planning, and thinking about who would benefit most from joining one of TxCAN’s training sessions next Fall. 

The Texas College Access Network (TxCAN) connects and supports college access initiatives across Texas, with the goal of increasing access to college and certificate programs.