STAND. COM. REP. NO. 268
RE: S.B. No. 245
Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi
President of the Senate
Thirty-First State Legislature
Regular Session of 2021
State of Hawaii
Your Committees on Education and Higher Education, to which was referred S.B. No. 245 entitled:
"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO EDUCATION,"
beg leave to report as follows:
The purpose and intent of this measure is to require the Department of Education's existing Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) working group to create a state plan to make completion of the FAFSA, or an opt-out waiver, a statewide graduation requirement by the 2023-2024 school year and report to the 2022 Legislature and various public school leaders.
Your Committees received testimony in support of this measure from the Maui Chamber of Commerce. Your Committees received testimony in opposition to this measure from three individuals. Your Committees received comments on this measure from Department of Education and Office of Information Practices.
Your Committees find that Hawaii left $10,000,000 in federal Pell Grants unclaimed in 2018, which is enough to send roughly twenty-five hundred students to a University of Hawaii community college tuition-free. Nationally, nearly $2,600,000,000 in federal financial aid for higher education went unused by high school graduates from the class of 2018 who were eligible for a federal Pell Grant but did not complete the FAFSA application. When students do not apply for federal student aid, many students may revert to private student loans, which often have high interest rates and lack the consumer protections of federal student loans. This measure creating a working group to increase awareness about FAFSA will help students successfully obtain federal funds and get the financial aid that they need to pursue higher education.
As affirmed by the records of votes of the members of your Committees on Education and Higher Education that are attached to this report, your Committees are in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 245 and recommend that it pass Second Reading and be referred to your Committee on Ways and Means.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committees on Education and Higher Education,
DONNA MERCADO KIM, Chair
MICHELLE N. KIDANI, Chair