Proposal simplifies college financial aid application

FAFSA simplification act of 2019

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Lawmakers are considering a proposal to make the federal financial aid application easier for college students and their families.

Millions of students who are eligible for financial aid don’t file the form each year, which means they’re losing out on money they should be getting to help pay for college.

Around 20 million American families fill out the 10-page free application for federal student aid (FAFSA).

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The FAFSA application is required for federal grants, loans and work-study programs.


"It is complicated,” Howard University student Mariah Leach said. "It makes it just a tiring process to have to do."

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) co-sponsored the FAFSA Simplification Act of 2019 in the U.S. Senate.

“The FAFSA is so complicated it discourages families from filling it out,” Alexander said.

The proposal would change the form from 108 questions to 18 to 30 questions depending on the family income level.

The financial information would be shared from the IRS so applicants wouldn’t need to fill it out again on the FAFSA.

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"You just get rid of unnecessary questions,” Alexander said. “In fact, all the unnecessary questions have created a lot of mistakes. The education department in Washington said there are about 5 billion mistakes every year."

Those mistakes can mean money is being left on the table.

Leach is hoping the proposal helps more students access financial aid.

"College is expensive,” Leach said. “I know a lot of people depend on financial aid. I know without financial aid, I wouldn't be here."

The bill would also help families learn about federal Pell Grant eligibility years before the student starts college.