Simplifying the FAFSA

There is widespread agreement that the current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a barrier to college access. The FAFSA is longer than the federal tax form, complex, intimidating in tone, and requires a great deal of personal and family financial information that can be especially difficult for low-income students to track down. Most simplification proposals focus on reducing the amount of information used to determine federal aid eligibility. Concerns about equity and cost tend to stall such efforts, because they could change who qualifies for aid and how much aid they receive. 

Support has grown steadily since we issued Going to the Source: A Practical Way to Simplify the FAFSA, in March 2007. Most significantly, Congress passed and President Bush signed the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), which encourages and empowers the U.S. Department of Education to simplify the FAFSA by pre-populating it with tax data as we have proposed. The Institute will continue to press for testing and implementation of this practical approach to simplification, as well as other ways to improve the financial aid process. 

Publications

  Memo on Simplifying the FAFSA by Eliminating Specific Questions

  Memo on Simplifying the FAFSA by Expanding Access to the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

  Coalition Letter Urging President Obama to Further Simplify the FAFSA

  TICAS Comments on Draft 2013-14 Student Aid Application Materials

  TICAS Comments on Draft 2012-13 Student Aid Application Materials 

  Official comments of the Institute for College Access & Success on the U. S. Department of Education's draft 2011-12 FAFSA

  After the FAFSA: How Red Tape Can Prevent Eligible Students From Receiving Financial Aid

  FAFSA Simplification Plan Will Make It Easier for Students to Get College Aid

  Official comments of the Institute for College Access & Success on the U.S. Department of Education's draft 2009-10 FAFSA

  Going to the Source: A Practical Way to Simplify the FAFSA