Mention “FAFSA” to people in certain circles and you’ll get an earful coming back at you. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid; it’s the form that students and parents fill out to apply for financial aid. Both government and institutions use data from the form to determine financial aid awards. The circles of people who will have something to say include students and their families, admissions and financial aid officials, scholars and activists who work in the higher education realm, and politicians.
In today’s Times Lamar Alexander, Republican senator from Tennessee who is a former secretary of education and Michael Bennet, a Democratic senator from Colorado and former superintendent of schools, argue for a super-simplified FAFSA and a whole other slew of federal financial aid reforms in a bill they are co-sponsoring.
- Simpler form (2 questions)
- Submit it earlier in process (so kids would know early in the college application process)
- Pell grants could be used year round
- Federal student loan repayment programs reduced to two: income based and 10 year option
Whether one agrees with proposal or not, an important piece of the policy debate is highlighted in their argument: the present system has billions of hidden costs in the amount of time students and families spend providing the information, schools and the government spend processing it, and what schools spend auditing the process.
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Simplifying Fafsa Will Get More Kids Into College