Good news for federal financial aid applicants
In a speech tonight at Harvard University, U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings will unveil a proposal to greatly simplify the application process for federal financial aid.
Under the plan, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, would shrink from more than 100 questions to 27. Additionally, students would find out before their senior year of high school how much federal financial aid they would qualify for.
“This all flies under the rubric of needing to make this process much, much less burdensome,” Spellings, left, said in an interview Monday with Inside Higher Ed. “Right now, it’s like we’re trying to keep people out of college, not get them in.”
In recent years, student advocacy groups have urged the government to downsize the form, and a College Board-sponsored panel has asked for a total reorganization of the student aid system. Despite those efforts, which have been embraced by both Republican and Democratic Party platforms, the financial aid process has only gotten more complicated.
Spellings told Inside Higher Ed that she’s hopeful the plan would gain support, but added that “it’s the consummate devil’s in the details type of thing.”
“I have full respect for what it’s going to take to get this done,” Spelling said. “I’m just hoping that Congress gives it careful consideration.”
Donna Winchester, higher education reporter