News Story

Bill: No Diploma Unless Student Submits Intrusive Federal Aid Form

'FAFSA' college assistance form requires families disclose extensive personal finance data

A Democratic state representative has proposed legislation to mandate that Michigan public school students submit a federal student aid eligibility form or be denied their high school diploma.

State Rep. Darrin Camilleri, D-Brownstown Township, introduced House Bill 4614 on May 21.

The bill allows students to request an exemption for an “extenuating circumstance, as determined by the board or board of directors.” School districts would not be required to grants such exemptions, however.

The bill has raised eyebrows because the form, known as Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, requires many students to disclose extensive family financial information, including information from past tax returns. A statement from Camilleri indicates that his focus is on getting students into college.

“For thousands of young people across Michigan, the only factor holding them back from pursuing higher education is the rising cost of college,” Camilleri said on the website of Michigan House Democrats. “While completing the FAFSA provides access to incredible financial support for post-high school education, too often students are not taking advantage of this opportunity. By including FAFSA completion as a prerequisite to graduation, we can open doors for students who would have never considered higher education due to financial constraints.”

Leon Drolet, a Macomb County commissioner and the chair of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, said the bill’s requirement was bizarre.

A high school diploma recognizes academic achievement, Drolet said, and it should not be denied just because the student fails to fill out paperwork for federal assistance.

“Why not require people to fill out an application for a Bridge card (food stamps) before they are allowed to go shopping?” Drolet said. “Why not require someone to fill out a request for housing aid before they are allowed to get a mortgage? You could take this all sorts of crazy ways. To tell a student their educational achievement won’t be recognized unless they fill out a form asking for federal money is bizarre.”