Last Friday the U.S. Department of Education introduced its revised Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The simplified form reduces the amount of time it takes to apply for federal financial aid from around two hours to something more like 20 minutes. According to an article in USA Today:
That… is music to the ears of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who told students Tuesday that FAFSA “used to be really, really, really tough” to fill out; he hopes a new, simplified version will encourage more to apply. An estimated 1.5 million low-income students probably are eligible for federal aid but don’t apply, in part because they find the process so daunting.
Most of this improvement is technological; the FAFSA form now removes irrelevant questions automatically as students fill out the form. The changes to FAFSA are superficial, however. As College Guide explained last month, the new FAFSA still counts still counts parents’ assets against financial aid. Fixing that requires legislation. According to the USA Today article, “Congress also is considering a proposal to remove other financial questions, including several about assets, so families could apply for aid using only financial information from their tax returns.”