The FAFSA form, which is how students and families apply for financial aid, is a long cumbersome form which baffles and stymies many families. Nationally, 8 million people fail to file the FAFSA form. As the article below indicates, many people feel that this form is longer and more complex than the 1040.
So, what can be done to make this form more simple and straight-forward for people to complete? Many ideas are being considered including linking this to tax information. Along with privacy issues, opponents argue that by the time that tax information would be considered, it is two year old. It seems like whatever is done to streamline this process, more disadvantaged populations will gain access to Higher Education. Currently, only 7% attend college from the lowest socioeconomic realms representing the most “at-risk” populations, while 60% of students attend college from the middle to upper class population. While the latter may not be at-risk economically, they are often at-risk emotionally and socially as they begin college. No matter what, a shorter FAFSA would provide more access for all and less family stress in considering how to get in to and pay for college.
The U.S. Education Department examines 2 ways to make it easier for families to apply
By KELLY FIELD
The first time Kathy Peterson saw the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the six-page form that the government uses to assess student need, she felt overwhelmed.
“I just kept going from one screen to the next, wondering, ‘When is this going to end?'” said Ms. Peterson, an office manager for a telecommunications trade association, whose son will attend Old Dominion University in the fall.
She says she spent at least 20 hours completing the electronic form, 20 times as long as the government estimates it should take.
Ms. Peterson was one of the persistent ones. Each year more than 40 percent of college students, nearly eight million, fail to file a Fafsa, even though most of them would be eligible for aid, according to the U.S. Education Department. The agency doesn’t know how many students start the process and give up, or how many never even begin because they’re intimidated by the form’s length and bureaucratic language.
To view this entire article you must subscribe to www.chronicle.com