Monday, June 29, 2009

Blogging to the Middle: Simplifying Financial Aid Applications

MONDAY, JUNE 29TH, 2009 AT 3:18 PM
Blogging to the Middle: Simplifying Financial Aid Applications
Posted by Terrell McSweeny
Here at the Middle Class Task Force, we have been working on ways to make college more affordable for families in America. The President, the Vice President and the Middle Class Task Force are committed to making sure that every student has the opportunity to earn a college degree.
In April, the Vice President hosted a Middle Class Task Force Meeting on college affordability in St. Louis, Missouri to discuss ways to expand opportunities and help make the dream of a college education a reality for more families. In Missouri, we released a staff report on ways that the administration can work to increase college affordability.
For high school seniors or aspiring college students facing the daunting task of applying for financial aid, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form can be a needlessly difficult obstacle on the path to higher education. Previous versions of the FAFSA have included as many as 153 questions, most of which had no relevance to financial aid packages.
On Wednesday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan – a Task Force Member - followed up on our Missouri findings and announced a shorter, simpler, and more user friendly FAFSA form that will make it easier to apply for financial aid. Starting this summer, students will be able to access the new web based FAFSA that dramatically simplifies and shortens the application form, and by next January, the FAFSA application will be streamlined with the IRS for a one stop, easy and pain free application.
The new version will make it easier and less intimidating to apply for aid, and will increase access for hundreds of thousands of students who are eligible, but do not apply for aid.
Simplifying the financial aid application is a policy that members of the Middle Class Task Force believe will help families benefit from important resources to cover the cost of college. We are continuing to work with Congress, the Treasury Department, the Department of Education, and the Administration to strengthen and affirm the opportunity for every student to pursue higher education.
As always, please continue sharing your ideas by visiting the Middle Class Taskforce Website.

Terrell McSweeny is Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President.

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