Integrating Tax Preparation with FAFSA Completion: Three Case Models

    Vol. 42, No. 3, 2012 p. 25 

    by Nathan Daun-Barnett and Beth Mabry

    This research compares three different models implemented in four cities. The models integrated free tax-preparation services to assist low-income families with their completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There has been an increased focus on simplifying the FAFSA process. However, simplification is not the only barrier that students face while completing the FAFSA. Tax preparation is also an integral part to FAFSA completion. This paper illuminates how four cities aim to integrate tax preparation and FAFSA completion through local community partners. While all four cities faced a variety of challenges reaching their target populations at a scalable level, the Campaign for Working Families in Philadelphia demonstrated a more integrated, successful tax-preparation and FAFSA completion program due to its robust Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) organization.