The current process of applying for federal financial aid is one of the biggest barriers to a postsecondary education. Under the current system, as many as 2 million students who are likely eligible for aid don’t even apply.
The existing FAFSA hurts not only students—for whom college represents the surest path to a well-paying job—but our economy as well. By 2025, two-thirds of all jobs in the United States will require education beyond high school. And yet, at the current rate we are producing college graduates, there will be an estimated shortfall of 11 million workers with the postsecondary credentials to fill those jobs.
The current FAFSA is complex, redundant, and poorly timed. The good news is there are pragmatic steps we can take to fix the FAFSA and help many more students make it to and through college. By removing unnecessary questions and tailoring the application to the complexity of the student’s financial situation, using already submitted tax data, and having students submit tax information from a full year earlier, more students will be able to apply to get the aid they need.
Meeting the nation’s economic needs will require better outcomes for all students—especially those most at risk of not making it to or through college: students from low-income backgrounds and students who are the first in their family to attend college. “Better for Students: Simplifying the Federal Financial Aid Process” is a commonsense proposal—informed by the work of diverse partners and leading experts—to fix the FAFSA and help ensure all students who seek the opportunity have access to financial aid dollars to help complete a high-quality, affordable postsecondary education.
Infographic: Why We Need to #FixFAFSA