By Joelle Fredman, NASFAA Staff Reporter
Representatives from the Department of Education (ED) walked NASFAA members through various changes that the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) will be implementing for the 2018-19 FAFSA this summer during a Tuesday morning session, including a redesign of the FSA website and highly anticipated mobile FAFSA.
The ED representatives — Edward M Pacchetti, Kaegy Pabulos, and Jonathan Goodsell — said the upcoming changes aim to make the process of applying for federal student aid “as simple as possible for our users.”
Goodsell explained that the redesign of the FSA website to be implemented later this summer will include significant changes for students and parents to help clarify (reportedly) confusing sections of the FAFSA. Skip-logic will be used, for example, to address the confusion around questions such as whether a person is a “dislocated worker” or not. That question will only display for students or parents who may qualify for an auto-zero or simplified needs test EFC calculation based on other information provided in the form. Goodsell also said that students and parents who report that they did not file taxes will no longer be presented with the section of the FAFSA asking for additional tax information.
Additionally, to address the issue of parents filing the FAFSA on their children's behalf, Goodsell said ED has created a redesigned login screen where filers can identify themselves as students or parents before entering the form. The signature process has been revamped as well, allowing students and parents to identify which signatures are required and of those, which have already been provided.
Pabulos also walked the room of NASFAA members through the mobile FAFSA, which debuted at the most recent FSA Conference in November. He confirmed that it will be released in beta form this summer for the purpose of collecting feedback, but will not include pre-populated information for renewal applicants until it is officially released in the fall. Similar to the FSA website redesign, Pabulos said that with the mobile app, ED attempted to clarify questions it often receives about certain sections of the form, such as which parent students should include in their form, by including additional information each step of the way on the app. Some NASFAA members, however, said they were still concerned that the information on the app and website regarding the “FAFSA parent” would to not be sufficient to help students determine which parent(s) to include in their form.
The ED representatives also presented recent data surrounding FAFSA applications. Nearly one million more students and families filed the FAFSA through May 31 than in 2016, which Pacchetti attributed to the allowance of prior-prior year (PPY) data which allowed the FAFSA to be available three months earlier.
Publication Date: 6/26/2018