Making it easier to apply for college aid

by Mandee Heller Adler

Thanks to the Obama administration, students and their families will find it easier to apply for financial aid. The forms for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are being streamlined to be shorter, simpler and more user friendly. For students and their families, this means, the forms will be easier to complete.

Anyone who has seen the form in the past will tell you, it was truly complicated. Students seeking financial aid for college needed to answer about 150 questions.
Next year’s applicants should see a 20 percent reduction in questions.

Most of the extra questions will be eliminated by avoiding redundancies. For example, students who are at least 24 or older will be able to skip the 11 questions concerning parental financial information. Also, in the simplified FAFSA form, low-income students will be able to skip over the questions about assets, since they aren’t even needed to determine their aid eligibility.

The administration will seek legislation to simplify the form further.

Next year’s form goes online in January. The FAFSA form is necessary to apply for Pell grants, Stafford loans, Perkins loans, work-study programs and much state aid.

Over 16 million students and families apply for federal financial aid every year. The government estimates that 1.5 million potential college students could be eligible for Pell grants but have not applied, perhaps because of the complicated paperwork.

Said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, “President Obama has challenged the nation to once again have the highest percentage of college graduates in the world. To do that, we need to make the college-going process easier and more convenient, and to send a clear message to young people as well as adults that college is within their reach. Simplifying the financial aid process is an important step toward reaching that goal.”

The full Times article can be seen at

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