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GENESEO — Parents from Geneseo and surrounding communities are encouraged to attend Financial Aid Information Night as a first step in planning to implement the new law regarding the FAFSA form enacted this summer by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.

Parent and Student Information Night will be Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Geneseo High School, 700 North State St.

The first session will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the school concert hall and will focus on Financial Aid and completing the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) form.

Courtnie Reeder, Illinois Student Assistance Commission Black Hawk College District Representative, will assist parents in setting up their FAFSA account as well as explain the financial aid process.

Geneseo High School guidance counselor Linda VanDerLeest said, “Parents of juniors and especially seniors are strongly encouraged to attend the Financial Aid portion of the evening. Students and parents of freshman and sophomore students also are welcome to attend.”

At 7 p.m., parents and students will be able to attend breakout sessions. GHS counselors will provide information on topics including standardized testing, college applications, scholarships, dual credit and AP opportunities, careers and more.

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VanDerLeest said Illinois is the third state to require graduating high school seniors to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as the FAFSA form.

“Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the change into law late last week,” VanDerLeest said. “The legislation takes effect beginning with the 2020-2021 school year. The bill was an initiative by Pritzker, and State Senator Andy Manar, (D) from Central Illinois, who sponsored the legislation.”

Louisiana passed legislation mandating high school seniors fill out the form several years ago, and now the State has the highest FAFSA completion rate in the country with 79 percent of Louisiana 12th grade students completing the FAFSA as of June of this year, compared to 63 percent of high school seniors in Illinois, VanDerLeest said.

Texas passed a similar measure this summer.

The goal of the new measure, Manar said, is to provide financial aid to more Illinois students from low-income and working class backgrounds.

According to VanDerLeest, Manar said some of the Illinois school districts already encourage students to fill out the FAFSA while “other school districts have made little to no effort in terms of the transition from high school to higher education after high school.”

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