The most inefficient and intimidating part of the financial aid process is requiring students and families to transcribe, calculate, and submit piles of income information that the government already has. An article in today’s Inside Higher Ed describes how researchers are conducting an experiment with H&R Block that pre-fills the FAFSA with selected clients’ tax data.
Over the past year, The Institute for College Access & Success has been exploring a way that all students and families could benefit from a similar approach. We’ve found that it’s both technologically feasible and perfectly legal for financial aid applicants to give the U.S. Department of Education access to the needed income information in their tax records. People already do this whenever they apply for a mortgage and in many other situations. For more about this approach, see our testimony before the Advisory Committee for Student Financial Assistance.