Revised Draft 2020-21 FAFSA Open For Second Round of Public Comment

By Megan Walter, NASFAA Policy & Federal Relations Staff

The Department of Education (ED) has posted a second draft of the 2020-21 paper Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and other related documents (e.g., Paper Student Aid Report and the Summary of Changes). The documents can be found under "Supporting Documents" on the website.

As previously reported, due to the changes to the Form 1040, the 2020-21 FAFSA has changed a few questions regarding tax forms. For the first comment period, questions 35 and 83 on the FAFSA were updated from, "If you have filed, or will file a 1040, were you eligible to file a 1040A or 1040EZ?" and instead read, "Did (or will) you file a Schedule 1 with your 2018 tax return?" This question is significant, since it is a possible determinant of the applicant's eligibility for the Simplified Needs Test (SNT) and automatic-zero Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

After reviewing feedback from the first comment period, ED has proposed updating the language for questions 35 and 83 again to now read, "Did (or will) you file a Schedule 1 with your 2018 tax return? Answer 'No' if you did not file Schedule 1 or only filed it to report an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend. See Notes page 9 for other exceptions." 

The other exceptions listed on Page 9 of the paper FAFSA include:

  1. Capital gain (line 13 – may not be less than zero) 
  2. Unemployment compensation (line 19) 
  3. Other income to report an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend (line 21 – may not be less than zero) 
  4. Educator expenses (line 23) 
  5. IRA deduction (line 32) 
  6. Student loan interest deduction (line 33)

For the FAFSA on the Web, the other exceptions would be incorporated via a hyperlink of the word "exceptions" in the question, which would launch "help text" listing the rest of the options. 

In written comments submitted on June 3, NASFAA encouraged ED to include an additional question on the FAFSA in order to maintain eligibility for SNT and automatic-zero EFC for certain applicants who are affected by the 2018 tax form changes. 

Any comments should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal by selecting Docket ID number ED-2019-ICCD-0039. In addition, please submit a copy of your comments to NASFAA so that we can represent the interests and concerns of our member institutions.

Comments are due by Aug. 2, 2019.


Publication Date: 7/15/2019

David S | 7/16/2019 11:36:18 AM

Still have quite a ways to go on simplifying the FAFSA, don't we? (sad face emoji)

David H | 7/15/2019 8:23:10 AM

I know we can only submit feedback to ED through their system, but I'm interested in what others including NASFAA think about the last edit. Wouldn't the following be better, "...Answer 'No' if you did not file Schedule 1 or only filed Schedule 1 to report one of the six exceptions listed in the Notes on page 9."

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