20 Million Students Apply for Financial Aid Every Year. Here's Why Some of the Neediest Lose Out

"For at least 5 million students each year, applying for financial aid doesn’t stop when they submit the FAFSA. If your application gets audited—a process technically known as 'verification'—you can wind up in a holding pattern, unable to move forward until you are able to track down and submit additional documentation to prove what you reported on the form was accurate," Money reports.

"Those audits have become more common this year, according to data provided by the National Association for Student Financial Aid Administrators, with multiple colleges reporting double-digit increases in the share of applicants flagged for verification.

The problem: While about a third of all people who fill out the financial aid application have historically been selected to go through verification, more than 90% of those audits affect the poorest applicants—those who have finances that would qualify them for a Pell grant, federal aid for low-income students, according to the National College Access Network.

'This is disproportionately a burden that low-income students have to bear to prove that they’re as low-income as they appear on the form,' says Carrie Warick, director of policy and advocacy at NCAN, which has been working to put a spotlight on the issue.

One of the biggest concerns is that some of those poorer students will never make it through process at all.

...

Simply reducing the number of questions won’t be enough to solve the burden of verification, says Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Instead, it will require the aid application to rely as much as possible on information that’s already been verified by the government—on tax returns, say, or applications for benefits such as supplemental security income or supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP).

And improving verification would benefit colleges as well."

NASFAA's "Headlines" 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.

 

Publication Date: 11/30/2017

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