NASFAA Urges Senate to Take Action to Fix the FAFSA

Utilizing Data-Sharing Capabilities Between Federal Agencies Is the Linchpin of Any Future FAFSA Simplification Efforts, NASFAA Says

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
Contact: Erin Powers
Director of Marketing & Communications 
(202) 785-6959 
powerse@nasfaa.org

WASHINGTON, DC, SEPT. 17, 2020 — The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, has come a long way over the past decade. However, despite the introduction of refined skip logic to reduce the number of necessary questions and the launch of the mobile FAFSA to improve accessibility, the complexity of the FAFSA is often cited as a barrier to completion, especially for the country’s neediest students.

In advance of this morning’s 10:00 a.m. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions hearing, "Time to Finish Fixing the FAFSA," the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) submitted written testimony which seeks to impress upon the committee the importance of striking a careful balance during the FAFSA simplification process.

"The data show the average completion time for the FAFSA has only dropped 34 seconds since the 2010-11 application cycle. That tells us that in nearly a decade of talking, tinkering, and retooling, we still haven’t hit the nail on the head in our efforts to streamline the process of applying for student aid," said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. "The question is, and always has been, how can we design an application that is simple enough that it doesn’t create a barrier to entry, particularly for low-income and first-generation college goers, but that still collects enough information for financial aid professionals to accurately assess who is most in need of valuable student aid dollars?"

NASFAA, in its written testimony, urges Congress to ensure that changes made in the name of simplification do not do more harm than good for students and also do not result in states or institutions having to create supplemental financial aid applications to collect additional information. By relying on timing and technology already in place, NASFAA explains, Congress can enact meaningful, commonsense changes that will dramatically reduce the number of FAFSA questions for all applicants, but most importantly, for low-income students. 

Per the approach originally laid out in NASFAA’s 2015 FAFSA Simplification Proposal, and recently updated to incorporate the potential inherent in the FUTURE Act that was passed in 2019, NASFAA explains how the existing data-sharing capabilities between the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Education can be utilized to sort and direct applicants down one of three potential pathways based on their predicted financial strength. 

NASFAA member Rachelle Feldman, who serves as associate provost and director of scholarships and student aid for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will testify before lawmakers to offer the perspective of a practicing financial aid administrator. Feldman will convey her experience witnessing firsthand the confusion and frustration the current FAFSA can incite among students and families, as well as the undue burden placed upon college and university employees whose time would be better spent counseling students than pushing paperwork. 

For additional questions about NASFAA’s written testimony, FAFSA simplification proposal, or to schedule an interview, please email Erin Powers.

About NASFAA

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 28,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every 10 undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit www.nasfaa.org.

Publication Date: 9/17/2020


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