House Members Propose Simplifying FAFSA
March 20, 2007 6:50 AM
More students may find it easier to get financial aid as lawmakers and higher education advocates are trying to push a new legislation through Congress to simplify the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA).
Called the “College Aid Made EZ Act,” Representatives Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) and George Miller (D-CA) introduced new plans to shorten and simplify the FAFSA form that students and their parents fill out when applying for aid, where income will be determined through the IRS directly and not through the parents and students themselves.
“Financial aid can make or break a students decision over whether they can afford going to college,” said Miller.
Emanuel feels that the current form is so difficult to understand that students and their families may feel defeated by the process.
“For kids going to college, parents have to fill out 100 questions for just $2300 for a kid to go to school,” said Emanuel, himself a father of three. “At that rate, you might as well go to graduate school.”
According to Lauren Asher, associate director of the Institute for College Access and Success, the new FAFSA form would be reduced from approximately 100 questions, including those regarding families’ net worth and tax information, to 50 straightforward and easy to understand questions. They also plan to create early applications for juniors in high school so that future college students can get a head start in applying for aid.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will also play a critical role in the new application. Instead of students and their families determining their own total net worth, their income would be determined directly through the IRS.
We aren’t talking about reinventing the wheel, the wheel is already there,” said Asher.
Though representatives of SF State’s own Financial Aid Department knew little of this new legislation, Director of Financial Aid Barbara Hubler found that plans similar to the “College Aid Made EZ Act” introduced in the past five years have been difficult to pass.
“It is IRS regulations that is the sticky point,” said Hubler. “It’s not going to pass.”
SF State students who are dependent on aid, like Gus Ingargiola, 30, a junior in the Political Science Department, feel that even though the applications would be easier on students, the process is still painful and deterring.
“No matter how you look at it, it is still a bunch of bureaucracy, all this work just to get into school,” said Ingargiola.
But students like Yenni Harper, 32, a Criminal Justice major, is supportive of the Act’s attempt at making it easier for students and their families who may get confused with FAFSA’s long version.
“I’m all for it,” Harper said. “I have a 401k, a lot of credit card payments and they ask me, what is your net worth? It is stupid to look through files and guess,” she added.
By making FAFSA applications easier, both Miller and Emanuel hope that more students, who were once deterred from filing for financial aid because of its confusing process, will take advantage of federal student aid.
“[We are trying] to make it far less confusing as it is today,” said Miller. “[The old form] is trying to do something good, but something good has run amuck.”
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