Filing for federal student aid just got a whole lot easier. The U.S. Department of Education recently announced that the online version of the Application for Federal Student Aid will be 17 screens shorter and will have 22 fewer questions.
It looks like bureaucrats might finally be listening to the public.
This 63 percent reduction in the application will no doubt have its average 20 million applicants 63 percent less frustrated and spend 63 percent less time staring at a computer screen.
The good news does not end there. The new application will use a technique called skip technology, which will allow previously filed information to automatically restored. This adds to the reduction in questions.
Another change that will make applicants happy is that they will be able to contact the Internal Revenue Service to upload their income information directly to the online application. Gone are the long telephone calls to mom as she tries to find her income tax forms from the previous year.
Also removed from the previous application are questions regarding drug convictions and students’ legal residency for applicants who have lived at the same address for more than four years.
Considering California’s recent budget crises and fee increases, the new FAFSA should encourage those students who were otherwise deterred from the daunting application to now apply. With the easier methods now in place, students can finally receive the aid they for which they were probably already eligible.
This is a step in the right direction for the Obama administration’s goal to have the U.S. hold the highest rate of college graduates by the year 2020. All these small changes in the FAFSA will no doubt have more students applying not only for federal aid, but perhaps to college if their education becomes more affordable. If only they had done this sooner.
For more information, visit fafsa.ed.gov.