111 Colleges Are Accused Of Violating Law By Requiring Student-Aid Forms

"More than 100 colleges may be violating a federal law that bars institutions from requiring applicants for federal student aid to submit forms other than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, according to an investigation by Congressional Democrats," The Chronicle of Higher Education reports

"In a letter sent to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Monday, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, identifies 111 institutions that 'appear to be establishing additional requirements for students to complete costly additional forms,' including the College Board's CSIC/Financial Aid Profile. ...

Of the 111 colleges named in the letter, 58 explicitly state that applicants must submit the Profile form to secure any financial aid. The remainder direct applicants to submit both the Fafsa and the Profile to obtain aid, though they do not specify what each form is used to assess. The letter includes links to screenshots of web pages on which each institution provides financial-aid information.

More than 200 institutions use the Profile to evaluate students' eligibility for institutional aid. The form asks much more detailed and complicated financial questions than does the Fafsa, and students must pay a fee to submit it. While the fees—$25 for one institution and $16 for each additional institution—can be waived, the waiver process is 'not transparent or clear,' according to the letter. ...

Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said he doubted the colleges were withholding federal aid from students who had failed to complete the Profile, but he acknowledged that some of their websites could be clearer.

'If there is actually a practice where schools would not award federal aid, then those schools should be held accountable,' he said. 'More likely it’s needing to be more clear on the consumer-information pieces.'"

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