Axios Indianapolis

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Welcome to Wednesday.

  • πŸŽ‰ Congrats to our men's March Madness challenge winner Cody Santangelo!

🌧️ Today's weather: Mostly cloudy and showers likely, with a high near 65.

Today's newsletter is 950 words β€” a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Lindsey Erdody and copy edited by Bill Kole.

1 big thing: FAFSA filings down as deadline looms

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Just five days remain to file for federal student aid and be guaranteed to receive maximum eligible assistance, but only one-third of Hoosier high school seniors have submitted the form as delays and glitches plague the process.

Why it matters: Because the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process is working so poorly, some students are now facing the possibility of enrolling at a college without knowing whether they'll ultimately be able to afford it.

Driving the news: This is the first year that Hoosier high school seniors are required to fill out the form, used by the federal government, state and colleges to determine financial aid eligibility, after a state law passed last year.

The big picture: Every year, thousands of Hoosier families skip the FAFSAΒ and leave behind millions of dollars in financial aid.

What's happening: The federal government had a similar goal in mind when it recently launched a new version of the form.

  • It was supposed to streamline the notoriously difficult process and expand aid eligibility, but a disastrous rollout with technical glitches and incorrect information being shared has meant far fewer applications have been turned in at this point than in previous years.

Zoom in: According to the National College Attainment Network's FAFSA tracker, 34% of Hoosier high school seniors had submitted the form as of March 29.

  • At the same time last year, more than 40% of seniors had done so.

Between the lines: Schools are having to decide between using faulty information that could mean students are on the hook for higher tuition bills after next school year, delaying their enrollment process or asking families to make a decision without knowing their full aid package.

What they're saying: "It's a nightmare," said Bill Wozniak, with INvested, a group that provides Hoosiers with free FAFSA filing help.

Yes, but: You should still submit the form, Wozniak told Axios, or at least as much of it as you can.

Get FAFSA filing help

2. "On your left" and other trail tips

Be extra careful at busy intersections, like 16th Street and the Monon Trail. Photo: Arika Herron/Axios

Spring has finally sprung and warmer weather is drawing more Indianapolis residents out to enjoy the city's multiuse trails.

Why it matters: When the Monon, Indianapolis Cultural Trail, downtown canal and other popular greenways fill up, proper trail etiquette is key.

What's happening: We asked several area experts for best practices to stay safe and share the trail with users of all kinds.

Here are some tips:

🧭 Be aware of your speed and surroundings.

  • In general, slower trail users should stay to the right and faster users should pass on the left.

πŸ‘ˆ Yes, it is courteous to say "on your left" when passing a slower trail user.

πŸ‘Ÿ Don't spread out over the whole trail when with a group.

  • Leave room for passing and folks traveling in the other direction.

πŸ•β€πŸ¦Ί Keep pets on leash and controlled.

  • Don't forget to clean up after them!

🎧 Don't tune out, or turn up the volume on your headphones so loud that you can't hear what's happening around you.

πŸ‘€ Look both ways when crossing streets, obey all signs and give vehicles extra time and room to stop and see you.

🎽 Make sure you are visible, especially if using trails in the morning or evening.

  • Andrew Scott, president of Indy Runners, recommends headlamps and high-visibility clothing.
  • Cyclists should always be equipped with a front white light and a rear red lamp or rear red reflector.

Keep reading for more tips

3. Pit stop: Where news is never a coincidence

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

πŸ‘€ A deal between state lawmakers and city officials to "reevaluate" no-turn-on-red signs at several downtown intersections, rather than force the city to remove the nearly 100 new signs put in place last year, led to their removal at just three spots β€” all adjacent to parking lots that serve the Statehouse. (IBJ)

πŸ“œ Several neo-Nazis virtually joined a Bloomington city council meeting last week as the body considered a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, spewing hate speech over Zoom during the public comment portion.

  • The resolution passed after lengthy discussion. (FOX59)

😎 Don't trash your eclipse glasses. Donate or recycle them. (IndyStar)

🦏 The Indianapolis Zoo announced the name of its white rhino calf: Xola. The 2-month-old currently weighs 350 pounds and is still spending time behind the scenes with her mom, Zenzele.

  • The public will be able to see the baby this summer. (WTHR)

4. 🐢 Creature feature: Meet Apollo!

I know looks don't matter, but did they mention how handsome I am? Photos: Courtesy of Indianapolis Animal Care Services

🐾 Apollo here!

Looking for an outta-this-world companion? Houston, you've found him.

De-tails: I'm 2 years old and weigh around 56 pounds.

  • I'm a happy, wiggly boy who loves to meet new people and play with toys.
  • I know "sit" and take treats nicely.

What they're barking: The folks at Indianapolis Animal Care Services say I'm a social butterfly, who will love you with my whole heart.

  • They would know β€” I've been with them for more than six months.

Of note: All adoptions at IACS are free and come with 30 days of support.

Dig deeper: Fill out an application for Apollo and see other adoptable pets online.

5. 1 map to go: Indy cashes in on eclipse

Screenshot: Courtesy of Square

Cities in the path of totality for Monday's eclipse scored more than just a once-in-a-lifetime experience β€”Β they cashed in, too.

State of play: Indianapolis was one of the top destinations in the country for eclipse tourism, becoming the most-booked location on Airbnb.

  • According to Square, the popular point of sale system for many small businesses, other industries benefited as well.
  • Restaurants in the path of totality saw a big jump in sales compared to an average Monday in April, according to Square data shared with Axios.

Zoom in: Sales in Marion County were up 130%.

  • Hancock, Franklin, Morgan, Ripley and Bartholomew counties β€” all in the path of totality β€” were other big winners, up between 300% and 950% on a normal day.

Our picks:

πŸ‘Ÿ Arika is spending lots of time on downtown trails as she trains for the upcoming Indy Mini!

🌘 Justin is seriously considering becoming an eclipse traveler after the amazing experience he had Monday.

🎧 Lindsey recommends these headphones, which allow you to hear things around you, and the Pennsy Trail and the Central Canal Towpath, which both tend to have fewer people on them than the Monon.