On this page, you'll find proposals to streamline or modify the federal financial aid application process.
For FAFSA simplification proposals from the previous sessions of Congress, visit the Legislative Tracker Archive: FAFSA Simplification.
Sponsor: Rep. Adams [D-NC]
Cosponsors: 3 (3D; 0R)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: This bill would provide $255 million in permanent, annual mandatory funding to Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and simplify the financial aid application, verification, and student loan repayment processes for millions of students. The bill would amend section 6103(l) of the IRC to allow the IRS to disclose tax return information directly to authorized ED officials for the purposes of “determining eligibility for, and amount of, Federal student financial aid.” The allowable information to be disclosed would include all items currently transferred via the DRT, as well as the taxpayer’s filing status, whether they filed a lettered tax schedule, and whether the individual(s) had filed taxes. The bill further permits taxpayer data sharing between IRS and ED and/or its contractors for the purpose of verifying income for applicants requesting or renewing eligibility for income-driven loan repayment plans as well as for the three-year monitoring period after a borrower has received a loan discharge for total and permanent disability.
Sponsor: Rep. DelBene [D-WA]
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: This bill, the Faster Access to Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Act, would, through better integration with the Department of Education (ED) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), simplify the application, verification, and student loan repayment processes. The FAFSA Act would amend section 6103(l) of the Internal Revenue Code to allow the IRS to disclose tax return information to authorized ED officials for the purposes of "determining eligibility for, and amount of, Federal student financial aid." The allowable information to be disclosed would include all items currently brought over from the DRT, and would also include "the filing status of such taxpayer," including whether the applicant had filed taxes.
Sponsor: Sen. Alexander [R-TN]
Cosponsors: 1 (0D;1R)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: This bill would create a streamlined financial aid application process, while still giving schools, states, and scholarship providers enough information to offer financial aid to today’s diverse college-going population. Under this proposal, all students would be able to determine their Pell Grant eligibility through Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and household size.
Sponsor: Rep. Doggett [D-TX]
Cosponsors: 61 (61D; 0R)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: This bill would add receipt of a federal means-tested benefits program (such as SSI, SNAP, and Medicaid) as a sole qualifier for an auto-zero expected family contribution (EFC) determination. This change would allow students and families who have already demonstrated high need to automatically qualify for maximum federal student aid, thereby reducing the FAFSA to personal identity and non-income eligibility questions. In addition, the bill codifies the Early FAFSA and use of prior-prior year (PPY) tax information put into place by former President Barack Obama via executive action in fall 2015, ensuring that students will continue to be able to submit their federal financial aid application for the coming school year in October rather than in January using data financial data filed with the IRS two years prior.
Sponsor: Rep. Bass [D-CA]
Cosponsors: 36 (35D; 1R)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: This bill would repeal Section 484(r) of the Higher Education Act, no longer suspending federal financial aid for students who have been convicted of a drug offense. The bill would also remove the question pertaining to drug offenses from the FAFSA.
Sponsor: Sen. Alexander [R-TN]
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: The Student Aid Improvement Act includes auto-qualifying applicants up-front for maximum Pell Grants if they meet specific criteria like qualifying for certain means-tested benefits or make too little money to need to file tax returns. It also would not require applicants to list assets on the FAFSA if their tax returns did not indicate any significant assets as reported on tax schedules. The bill would also pave the way for more cooperation between federal agencies to auto-qualify applicants. The Student Aid Improvement Act also incorporates language that would require significant standardization of financial aid offers, by mandating the use of standard language and a standard format, as well as multiple other items. The bill would require certain standardized items to be included on the first page of the financial aid offer and in the same order, and sets strict standards for the way financial aid and enrollment information must be displayed on the first page of the aid offer.
Sponsor: Rep. Sablan [D-MP]
Cosponsors: 2 (2D; 0R)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: This comprehensive FAFSA simplification bill would codify the use of prior-prior year (PPY) income data on the FAFSA and create a three-pathway model for the FAFSA. The EFC formula would be changed to result in a more generous treatment of students and, in some cases, parent income. The income threshold for automatic zero EFC would increase to $34,000 and would increase with inflation. The definition of untaxed income is narrowed significantly under the bill. The bill repeals the 1998 prohibition on students with certain drug offense convictions, as well as those who fail to register with the Selective Service System, from receiving federal student assistance, a change NASFAA has supported for some time. It also grants Title IV eligibility to undocumented "Dreamer" students, defined for these purposes as those who entered the U.S. prior to reaching age 16 and have either earned or are in the process of earning a high school diploma or associate's degree, have been eligible for a grant of deferred action, or have served in the uniformed services.
Sponsor: Rep. McBath [D-GA]
Cosponsors: 1 (1D; 0R)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: The HOPE for FAFSA Act would streamline the FAFSA process for applicants, putting them into 1 of 3 pathways depending on the complexity of their finances. Pathway One applicants would be those who have received a federal means-tested benefit at some time during the previous 24-month period before filing their FAFSA, Pathway Two applicants would be those who are not required to file a tax return, or did not need to file any additional Schedules with their 1040 form and who’s adjusted gross income is less than or equal to $60,000. All other applicants would fall under Pathway Three.
Sponsor: Rep. Underwood [D-IL]
Cosponsors: 2 (2D; 0R)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: The File Once FAFSA Act would allow applicants who submit a FAFSA for an undergraduate course of study and who are eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant for their first year, to not have to resubmit a FAFSA application for the rest of their undergraduate study, and instead, submit a certification form confirming there was no change to their dependency status.
Sponsor: Sen. Cardin (D-MD)
Co-Sponsors: 1 (0 R; 1 D)
Sponsor: Rep. Cummings (D-MD)
Co-Sponsors: 2 (0 R; 2 D)
NASFAA Analysis & Coverage: The bill would allow students who are unable to provide parent information because of situations such as parental abandonment, abuse, or neglect, and would be likely to meet the criteria for a dependency override, to submit their FAFSA after answering a single screening question, as a “provisionally independent” student. The student would receive an Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) and estimated Pell Grant award amount based on the provisional independent status. The student’s Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) would indicate the provisional status, and schools would be required to reach out to admitted students to discuss the next steps for applying for a dependency override.
Publication Date: 1/7/2020