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Members of Congress Introduce Legislation to Simplify FAFSA Form

Dave_BerryDave_Berry CC Admissions Expert Posts: 2,553 Senior Member
"Democrats on the Committee on Education and the Workforce recently introduced new legislation that would simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

On Thursday, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester D-Del., introduced the Simple FAFSA Act of 2017 that will amend the Higher Education Act, removing barriers for students seeking financial aid by simplifying the FAFSA application process. Legislative changes include requiring the FAFSA to be filed only one time, providing the FAFSA in multiple languages and creating a standardized financial aid award letter.

The bill is co-led by Ranking Member Robert 'Bobby' Scott, D-Va., Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif., Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., and Delegate Gregorio Sablan, I-Northern Mariana Islands." ...


Replies to: Members of Congress Introduce Legislation to Simplify FAFSA Form

  • MassDaD68MassDaD68 Registered User Posts: 1,541 Senior Member
    Interesting. Filing it just once seems like a good idea on the surface but might allow people to game the system.
  • 3puppies3puppies Registered User Posts: 1,442 Senior Member
    They are suggesting that part of the problem is that roughly 10% of students who get a Pell grant as a freshman do not re-apply the following year, even though they may still be eligible again.
    For students who did complete the FAFSA and received a Pell Grant for their first year of college, roughly 10 percent did not re-file the next year although there is a likelihood that they remained eligible, the lawmakers say.

    I find this not so hard to believe, but wonder how many of these students have flunked out, because their high schools simply passed every them without doing any of the work, then when they get to college they find out it is hard.

    I am generally very liberal when it comes to improving access to education I am not so sure that I believe this (filing FAFSA just once, prior to freshman year) will fix the problem, because the causes of the problem are not addressed. That being said, it would be nice to pre-emptively use other government data (means tested welfare, etc.) to automatically verify continuing eligibility for Pell grants, to save the hassle of re-filing every year.

    I am very much in favor of increasing the Income Protection Allowance - the "work penalty" is a serious hurdle to overcome for many students, especially where transportation expenses are high. Try to work at a local supermarket, to afford gas, insurance, and used car payment, to get between work and class, and suddenly their FA is reduced. Having to make one unexpected car repair can means they will have to take a semester off.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 17,404 Senior Member
    I completed the FAFSA (Last one!) last night. It probably took about 30 minutes (after I found the tax documents which for some reason were 'hidden' in the tax box) only because I (parent) had an expired password so had to change it (which is complicated), and I had look up the bank balances for daughter and me and the bank made me put in secret.

    Almost all the information pre-populated so I just had to make sure my email was still the same, phone numbers, number of kids in college (change it), etc.

    I think one reason for the 10% failure to reapply is that many Pell recipients get a lot of help with the forms in high school. The first one now gets filed in October senior year. The next year, there is no one nudging them to get things done and turned in. When I was in Florida, there were news stories about the Obamas coming down to do 'filing parties' to make sure every single kid had filed.

    If you watch The Middle, Sue Heck forgot to file for financial aid for sophomore year. The show made a big deal of all the posters in the dorms, the email reminders, etc. and Sue just walking right by them because she was having so much fun in college.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 68,580 Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    Does not seem likely to pass, since the GOP majority is unlikely to be enthusiastic about:

    * Making it easier to continue college...
    * ... especially for poor and lower-middle-income people ...
    * ... including currently-Pell-grant-ineligible DREAMers ...
    * ... and currently-Pell-grant-ineligible students with drug-related convictions ...
    * ... on government Pell grants, subsidized student loans, and work-study subsidies.
  • ALAL Registered User Posts: 124 Junior Member
    I agree with a lot of the concerns given above. As a current student, I feel like only submitting the FAFSA once before freshman year is only to cause more issues. For domestic students, perhaps link the FAFSA with information from the IRS and other government financial databases so that information is automatically updated. At this point, students only need to file a consent form for their college to view their household's financial information and fill in a smaller amount of missing values. They can also be automatically enrolled into programs into which they are eligible.
  • glidoglido Registered User Posts: 5,925 Senior Member
    I know a kid who had to drop out of college because his parents were so dysfunctional, they didn't get the FAFSA form in after his freshman year. It happens.
  • MassDaD68MassDaD68 Registered User Posts: 1,541 Senior Member
    I guess my take is "Is it too much to ask that people file a form if they want thousands of dollars in FIN AID?". These students need to be aware of the cost of college and part of that is how to pay for it. If they know it is a challenge and they need FIN AID, then they should be on the ball for that. These are young adults now. They need to keep track of this stuff.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 11,363 Senior Member
    @twoinanddone - me too, I finished mine (last one!) last week.

    You and I are parents. I have always done the FA paperwork for my kids. Both kids are very bright and probably could handle the forms and steps (after asking me for my financial info), but I wonder about kids whose parents can't help them due to language barriers, unfamiliarity with forms, etc.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid Posts: 83,371 Forum Champion
    I suspect that many fo those Pell recepients who didn't apply again, went to a CC, flunked out.......and. Did' go back.

    Applying one time is crazy. Certainly gaming the system would become prevalent. Faking separations is much easier if only have to do it one time, etc.

    I don't agree with the sentiment that the GOP doesn't want low income students to go to college. That's crazy.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 17,404 Senior Member
    'I know a kid who had to drop out of college because his parents were so dysfunctional, they didn't get the FAFSA form in after his freshman year. It happens.'

    But it really is the student's responsibility. Yes, I did all my kids' paperwork, I dealt with the FA office, I deal with the taxes. It's my contribution to their education (and it takes a lot of hours to do it all but only a few minutes for the FAFSA). They could do it themselves, or ask for help. The hard part for a student is getting the parents' information. If the govt really wants to make it easier, don't require the parents' information.

    Another thing that makes it hard is the fact that it is now done in Oct while the kids are away at school, and then the taxes come up in the spring, when they are away at school. My life would be easier if these documents were due is, say, June.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 68,965 Senior Member
    @twoinanddone the forms are available in October. And yes...for those applying for limited funding aid (work study, Perkins loans), they need to be submitted ASAP when they become available. But for others...it can wait until Thanksgiving or the winter holiday break. It’s using prior prior taxes...which are totally done by the time the fafsa becomes available.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 11,363 Senior Member
    My (continuing) student's deadline is like April or something, so we have from October to then to do it (winter break is usually when it gets done). We don't get the award letter until around July...which is annoying since the bill is due in August. So far the package has varied little from year to year but still.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 17,404 Senior Member
    Oh, I could wait a little longer to do FAFSA, but it is just easier to do it by myself. I used to text or call my kids and say "Okay, I'm going to push the button now...." but I got tired of it and just do it. The downside is they aren't learning how to do it, how to make corrections or changes, or how to do their taxes.

    But waiting will not insure they are around either. One came home yesterday (and she still needs the FAFSA for next year) and the other is coming home at 9:30 tonight, going to the new Star Wars movie at midnight, then they are going to Nepal at noon tomorrow. Not much time when they get back.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid Posts: 83,371 Forum Champion
    'I know a kid who had to drop out of college because his parents were so dysfunctional, they didn't get the FAFSA form in after his freshman year. It happens.'

    I understand that there are students who are hurt by the annual req’t when they have dysfunctional parents. However, rules shouldn’t accommodate “bad cases”.

    If this were to pass, there would be so much game-playing. A SAHParent would delay getting employed until right after filing FAFSA during october of child’s senior year....which would meant that the family could be a two income family the entire time the student is in college, but that was never captured.

    We already see a bunch of parents trying financial gymnastics with the 4 year filing req’t. Imagine the spectacular moves they’d attempt if they only had to file the first year.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 68,965 Senior Member
    I don’t have much faith that congress can simplify anything as is evidenced by the recent tax reform bill.
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