Governor McKee, Commissioner Infante-Green Encourage FAFSA Completion, Spotlight Efforts at Newport’s Rogers High School

Published on Monday, January 29, 2024

NEWPORT, RI – Governor Dan McKee, Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, Newport Mayor Xay Khamsyvoravong, Superintendent Dr. Colleen Burns Jermain, Rhode Island Student Loan Authority Executive Director Charles Kelley, and Rhode Island school counselors joined Rogers High School administrators, students, and staff on Monday to highlight the importance of filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The gateway to federal financial aid, grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities, and a key metric in Governor McKee’s plan to meet or exceed Massachusetts’ education performance levels by 2030, the FAFSA has undergone a significant redesign to reduce barriers for low-income families. 

“By including FAFSA completion rate in our plan to improve student outcomes and reach Massachusetts’ levels of learning by the end of the decade, we are fostering a pathway to success and prosperity for the entire state,” said Governor Dan McKee. “My administration is committed to ensuring every student has the opportunity to access higher education and shape a brighter future for themselves and our community. We are pleased to see many Rhode Island communities, including Newport, leverage Learn365RI grants to support FAFSA completion and share our gratitude with Rogers High School for their continued efforts to set students up for success.” 

The simplified application will allow nearly 3,000 additional low-income students from Rhode Island to receive Federal Pell Grants, which do not need to be paid back. More than 6,000 additional students will be able to receive the maximum Pell Grant of $7,395. This represents a $500 increase from $6,895 made possible by the Consolidated Appropriation Act, 2023. Pell Grant eligibility will be linked to family size and federal poverty level. Further details regarding eligibility changes can be found here.  

"By removing barriers and making financial aid more accessible, we are building a brighter, more equitable and inclusive future for Rhode Island,” said Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “We urge all students and families to complete the FAFSA and extend our appreciation to the school counselors, administrators, and staff dedicated to assisting families in navigating this important process." 

"For the past two years, Rhode Islanders forfeited $16 million in federal aid that they were eligible for because they didn’t complete the FAFSA,” said Shannon Gilkey, Ed.D., Commissioner of Postsecondary Education. “There is both hope and opportunity to make significant improvements in our state’s FAFSA rates because when those federal dollars are braided with state resources, we can help more Rhode Islanders pay for college.” 

In 2021-2022, Rhode Island received $89,042,983 in Pell Grant funding. There were 21,422 Pell Grant recipients. In the same year, nationally, Pell Grant funding totaled $25,870,189,157 to 6,079,967 recipients. The Pell Grants were Senator Claiborne Pell’s (D-RI) key provision of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.  

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the changes to the FAFSA form represent the “most ambitious and significant redesign” of the processes to apply for federal student aid and the formulas used to determine aid eligibility since the 1980s. The updates are part of the Department’s implementation of the bipartisan FUTURE Act and FAFSA Simplification Act. 

Recognizing the pivotal role that financial aid plays in facilitating access to higher education, Rogers High School has increased efforts to guide and support students through the FAFSA filing process. Under the leadership of Principal Jared Vance and Assistant Principal Michael Monahan, Rogers High School is holding a series of FAFSA workshops for students and families in collaboration with the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority’s College Planning Center. Newport is among several local education agencies utilizing the Learn365RI Grant to support FAFSA efforts. 

“As the home to Salve Regina University and the Community College of Rhode Island’s Newport campus, our students have great options for continuing their studies after high school, including right here in our backyard,” said Mayor of Xay Khamsyvoravong. Filling out a FAFSA can unlock federal funds to help cover the cost, putting such pathways within reach for all students.” 

The College Planning Center is scheduling free appointments for FAFSA completion. Tips for preparing to complete the FAFSA can be found here.  

Students will need to create an FSA ID before filling out the application. The FSA ID is a username and password combination used to log in to the U.S. Department of Education online systems and is used every year when filling out the FAFSA. Students who cannot apply for federal student aid due to immigration status can utilize the Rhode Island Alternative Application for State Postsecondary Student Financial Assistance. Eligibility and application instructions can be found here.  

Beginning with the class of 2028, under the revised Rhode Island Readiness-Based Graduation Requirements, FAFSA and state aid completion data will be reported in Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) school report cards, and will be included in school accountability. This puts the onus on schools to support students in filling out the FAFSA and state aid forms to ensure all students get help in maximizing financial assistance.

RIDE is committed to improving student support for FAFSA completion. With federal Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant funding, RIDE’s Office of College and Career Readiness (OCCR) onboarded three ambassadors for the 23-24 School Year to support the Individual Learning Plan (ILP), ILP Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Scope and Sequence and the FAFSA. The FAFSA ambassador is a liaison between RIDE, OPC, and the field, helping LEAs with outreach and implementing the new FAFSA legislation that was passed. 

The federal FAFSA deadline is June 30, but programs may have different priority deadlines. It is important to apply early because financial aid is first-come, first-served. For more information on the state’s FAFSA completion resources, including FAFSA Myths & FAQS, visit  

What They’re Saying:  

“Filling out this free application can truly be life-changing for our Rhode Island students and families. As the cost of tuition increases nationwide, we want students to know that financial constraints should never stand in the way of their educational aspirations.” - Board of Education Chair Michael Grey 

"Education is the foundation upon which we build our state’s future. We encourage students and families to begin the necessary planning ahead of FAFSA completion and take advantage of the tools that will set them up for success.” - Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education Patti DiCenso 

“Rhode Island has been and remains a leader in making postsecondary education a realistic opportunity. The Pell Grants were Senator Claiborne Pell’s signature provision of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, helping to make the dream of a college education available to millions. And our Congressional delegation is deeply committed to the success of higher education initiatives that promote attainment, affordability and equity.” - David Caprio, Chairman of the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education 

“Thousands of financial aid dollars go unused each year due to not filing the FAFSA. FAFSA not only qualifies students for Pell Grants, but is used by colleges and universities to determine any institutional aid they must allocate. Additionally, filing a FAFSA qualifies students for federal student loans, which is the lowest-cost option for students who need to borrow. We are here to help at the College Planning Center with extended hours including weekends. Money for college starts with FAFSA.” - College Planning Center Director Stacy Crooks 

“We are all here today to make certain all of you know about FAFSA and how important it can be for you and your families to help fulfill your goals after high school. Filling out the FAFSA will help enable every student and his/her family to know/learn about more funding opportunities to pay for higher education and career pathways. All of us want all of you to fill out the FAFSA to enable your future beyond high school be everything you want and ensure that you have as much financial support as possible. Take advantage of this and sit down with your family, our school counselors and our partners at CCRI to fill out the application. We are here to support you.” - Newport Superintendent Dr. Colleen Burns Jermain 

 "With the significant changes to the FAFSA form and timeline this year, schools, agencies, and institutions of higher education across the state of Rhode Island are coming together to bring assistance directly to Rhode Island’s students and families. Our goal is to efficiently address any barriers to completing the FAFSA so that students and families can complete the form and access their desired postsecondary plan. We're doing this by providing direct service, numerous resources and multiple access points." - Blackstone Academy Charter School Head of School and FAFSA Ambassador Kyleen Carpenter