FAFSA season is beginning and with it the horror of working through the 108-question student aid request form. The process of completing the request is complicated and time-consuming because of a number of reasons.
A number of senators have introduced legislation this year in order to make the process easier overall for students and their families to complete, but the efforts fail to incorporate every issue with the process.
A universal complaint heard about the FAFSA is that it is too complicated and as a result time-consuming. U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander [R-TN] introduced the Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019 which is aimed at simplifying the process as well for thousands of Tennesseans by increasing the number of people auto-qualified for aid.
This qualification process would immediately make students eligible for aid if they, their family, or their spouses required federal aid in the past year. This would allow for more people to receive funding to attend college which has been an issue for years with the increasing cost associated with attaining higher education.
The Student Aid Improvement Act is a good first step, but more needs to be done to make FAFSA more inclusive of people’s situations especially by simplifying the process of filing as an independent.
The process of filing as an independent is extremely complicated when it should not be. Currently, the only way to qualify as an independent is if the student’s parents were abusive or they don’t know their parents at all. This is a very narrow approach though and does not even consider students whose parents are deceased which requires them to go through a verification form with the school that further complicates the process of receiving aid.
This issue needs to be addressed and another bill is trying to make it easier to qualify as an independent but does not broaden the ways to qualify when it should. This issue affects thousands of people every year and creates just another barrier to attaining higher education. The complication FAFSA bars eligible and enthusiastic students from receiving the aid they so desperately need in order to chase their dreams.
Citizens can help with the process of making FAFSA easier for everyone by reaching out to representatives about these issues whether that is by calling, emailing or writing a letter.
Representatives need to hear how issues with FAFSA are affecting the people they represent at the national level in order to make real change. Something needs to be done about it so why not sooner rather than later. Students in college right now can bring about change so that future students won’t have to face the same problems with FAFSA.