Session 24 FAFSA Simplification - What Does That Mean and How Do We Get There? Carney McCullough Michele Brown
The Advisory Committee • The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance issued the results of their simplification study entitled “The Student Aid Gauntlet” on January 23, 2005. • www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/acsfa/edlite-about.html
The Advisory Committee Four National Imperatives Empower Students • To make sound decisions about higher education Make It Easy • To ensure students get the financial aid they deserve
The Advisory Committee Four National Imperatives (cont’d) Lose The Paper • To create an integrated web-based student aid system Work Together • To forge creative public-private access partnerships
The Advisory Committee • Create a System of Early Financial Aid Information. • Provide student from middle school through adulthood with accurate and timely information about financial aid, including estimates of awards from multiple sources in the context of college costs.
The Advisory Committee • Make Federal Need Analysis Transparent, Consistent, and Fair. • Reform four major structural weaknesses in the current eligibility model: the treatment of student earnings, college savings plans, state and local taxes, and special circumstances.
The Advisory Committee • Expand Existing Simplification to More Students. • Extend the benefits of the automatic zero Expected Family Contribution and the Simplified Needs Test to as many low-and moderate-income students as possible.
The Advisory Committee • Allow All Students to Apply for Financial Aid Earlier. • Align the financial aid application and college admissions processes and allow student to apply in order to receive estimates of their eligibility earlier in the college preparation process.
The Advisory Committee • Make the FAFSA Relevant and Understandable. • Eliminate questions that are redundant or irrelevant to federal or state aid eligibility and simplify the language used on the form to make it more accessible to students and families.
The Advisory Committee • Create a Simpler Paper Form for Low-Income Students. • Provide low-income students with a paper EZ FAFSA, a highly simplified paper application, and maximize to the extent possible the number of students who can use this form.
The Advisory Committee • Phase Out the Full Paper Form and Increase the Use of Technology. • Establish a five-year timeline for phasing out the complex, full paper FAFSA and move all applicants to FAFSA on the Web.
The Advisory Committee • Simplify and Streamline FAFSA on the Web. • Ensure that applicants complete a tailored, on-line form that contains the minimum number of questions necessary to deliver federal and state aid and can sign their application electronically without delay.
The Advisory Committee • Simplify the Verification Process. • Create and implement a centralized, web-based verification system to reduce burden on students, lower costs to institutions, and improve the quality of date use to ensure program integrity.
The Advisory Committee • Create a National Partnership to Make Access Simple and Certain. • Strengthen public-private partnerships based upon effective state models already in place in order to fully implement the improvements outlined above and lower unmet need.
Secretary’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education Recommendations from the Secretary’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education released September 2006
Higher Education Reconciliation Action Act of 2005 (HERA) • The Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 (HERA) was signed by President Bush on February 8, 2006. This bill made changes to the current Higher Education Act (HEA) that will affected borrowers, institutions, and lenders.
Higher Education Reconciliation Action Act of 2005 (HERA) • Simplified Needs Test and Automatic Zero EFC • Only parent’s type of tax return filed will be considered for dependent students • Federal means-tested benefit program as alternative to tax return requirement • Automatic Zero EFC Only • Increases the income threshold from $16,000 to $20,000 to qualify for an automatic zero EFC
HERA – Need Analysis Changes • Federal Means-Tested Benefit Programs -- students may now qualify for SNT or Auto Zero EFC if, in addition to meeting the relevant income thresholds, they or their spouse or parents received benefits from a means-tested Federal benefits program
HERA – Need Analysis Changes • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) • Food Stamps • Free or Reduced Price Lunch • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
1973 • First BEOG application • 2 pages long, asked 50 questions that required up to 80 responses
1993 • Reauthorization required single federal form • Added state questions to reduce numbers of states with separate applications • Used alpha-numeric number scheme (e.g., 44a, 44b, 44c etc.)
1994 • FAFSA numbering scheme changed, assigned numbers to each response • Went from an apparent 47 questions to 113 responses (same questions as 1993 form)
1997-1999 • FAFSA was 16 pages long- 4 page application, 12-page instruction book • Began 2-year redesign effort • Worked with schools and states to reduce data elements
1999-2000 • Current format, 4-page application and 4-page Notes section • Extensive usability testing- dropped SNT worksheets as too complex • Eliminated 8 pages of instructions • Plain-language approach
Reauthorization in 1992 and 1998, HERA in 2005 • Did not eliminate any statutory requirements and added new questions, for example: • Are you eligible to file a 1040A or EZ? • Preparer’s Information • Drug conviction question • Receipt of federal benefits • Active duty military question
Application Processing Statistics For 2006-07 – • 94% of applications filed electronically • 6% of applications filed on paper FAFSA Paper vs. Electronic Filers through Week 38
Contact Us We appreciate your feedback and comments. We can be reached at: Carney McCullough Carney.McCullough@ed.gov Michele Brown Michele.Brown@ed.gov