President Obama greets audience members after an education town hall at North High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 14, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
This week President Barack Obama announced that the college financial aid process will now start in October, rather than January. This means that FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, forms will not only be submitted earlier but also rely on tax forms from two years previous.
It’s easy for learning leaders to shrug — unless they have college-bound children, of course — and skip over this news bit, but they should take notice. The next generation of employees might have to start planning their higher education path when they’re 15, as FAFSA will be based on their family’s financial situation when theyarein their sophomore year of high school.
How many of us knew exactly what we wanted to do when we were 15? And of that population, who actually went through with the plan? If I’d done what I wanted when I was carless, clueless and obsessed with “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” I’d be processing fingerprints and DNA samples in a forensics lab somewhere, which takes a much different kind of college education than being a magazine editor.
My family would have planned for me to go into a technical or science-based school, not the university I attended for my bachelor’s of journalism (Go Missouri Tigers!), and I would have either dropped out, transferred or been stuck in a job I didn’t want. Talk about an engagement killer.
This is what learning leaders will be dealt. On one hand, more time to apply for financial aid means a greater likelihood students will take private and public institutions up on their offer to subsidize higher education. On the other, the pressure could lead to the next wave of employees committed to careers they wanted before they had their driver’s licenses, but not necessarily 10 years later.
It suggests chief learning officers with an eye on their pipeline may want to consider tapping into that pipeline earlier than ever before.