Column: Three Ways To Fix Financial Aid Form Flaws

"Starting Jan. 1, families with college-bound students will begin submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is the key to getting most grants, scholarships and loans, but filling it out can be a nightmare," according to Reuters columnist Liz Weston. "The application form 'is much too complicated,' according to financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz of Edvisors Network. 'The FAFSA instructions are a mess' that 'leave you guessing a lot of the time,' said college savings guru Joe Hurley. ...  Kantrowitz said the form, and the federal financial aid formula, need 'a drastic simplification.' 'The number of questions from over 100 to just a handful, such as family income, household size and number in college,' Kantrowitz said, 'plus the student's name and contact information.' One way to fix the problem is to allow the use of prior-year tax data. A big chunk of financial aid is first-come, first-served, so students are encouraged to submit the FAFSA as soon after the Jan. 1 as possible. But the form requires the most recent income information from tax forms, and most families do not have all of their federal income tax data that early in the year. Even after they file their tax returns, it can take a week or more to get the information electronically transferred to the FAFSA site. ... The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators endorses the change, which it says would help the neediest students."


NASFAA's "Financial Aid in the News" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.