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More than 30 Northwest Indiana schools recognized for high FAFSA completion rates

College and Career Readiness Coordinator Aaron Garrett, left, Early College Counselor Rhonda LaMarr and Associate Superintendent Wendel McCollum accept an award from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education on behalf of the Michigan City High School Guidance Department. Michigan City High School was among more than 300 schools statewide that received the honor for having more than 70% of its students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

INDIANAPOLIS — More than three dozen Northwest Indiana schools were honored last month at the Indiana Statehouse for high completion rates of federal student aid filings.

The June 26 recognition was a part of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education's recent push to encourage Indiana high schools to have at least 70% of students for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, before its April 15 deadline.

Filing the FAFSA can help Indiana students determine their eligibility for a number of financial aid and grant programs, such as the Adult Student Grant, the Workforce Ready Grant, financial aid for military and public safety officers and Indiana's 21st Century Scholars, which funds up to four years of undergraduate tuition at any participating public, in-state college or university.

This year, 38 Northwest Indiana high schools were among the more than 300 schools statewide that met the Indiana Commission for Higher Education's goal. Of the 38 Northwest Indiana schools recognized, 21 schools, plus Thea Bowman Leadership Academy, also saw 70% of graduating seniors complete the Scholar Success Program — a four-year track required to receive Indiana's 21st Century Scholarship.

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"On-time completion of both the FAFSA and Scholar Success Program is critical for scholars to take advantage of the program," Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said in a news release. "The schools we are celebrating this year are setting an example by ensuring more Hoosier students are prepared for the future."

The statehouse recognition — which saw representatives from Whiting to Michigan City in attendance — was the third annual event put on by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education in partnership with the Indiana Department of Education and INvestEd, a nonprofit seeking to connect Hoosier families with college planning resources.

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A total 334 Indiana schools were recognized for their students' FAFSA completion rates, up from the 130 schools honored last year. The state's higher education commission also honored 203 schools statewide for meeting their students' participation in the Scholar Success Program — 191 of which also met the commission's FAFSA goal.

A complete list of schools recognized this year can be found on the website for Learn More Indiana, a partnership of state and local organizations working to advance opportunities in post-secondary education and training.

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Education Reporter

Carley Lanich covers education in Lake County and throughout the Region. She comes to Northwest Indiana from Indianapolis and is an IU-Bloomington grad.