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ERIC Number: ED543363
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Nov
Pages: 26
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
Financial Aid Administrators' Views on Simplifying Financial Aid: NASFAA's 2008 Financial Aid Simplification Survey Report
National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NJ1)
Despite a decade of simplification efforts, students and families are often still baffled by the student aid process and cringe at the sight of financial aid application forms. Contrary to its purpose of helping students to access college, the student aid application process causes families frustration and confusion that has been cited as an obstacle to college access (ACSFA, 2004). Much has been written and discussed in recent years regarding the perceived need for simplification of several aspects of student financial aid, including the application, the formulas, and the delivery system. Members of the financial aid community hold strong and divergent beliefs about the best approach to simplifying the system. Opinions differ significantly on issues such as the number of data elements and the complexity of the questions asked during the application process. In July and August 2008, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) conducted a survey of financial aid administrators to gather input on various approaches to simplifying the financial aid process and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The NASFAA's Federal Issues Committee, which is composed of financial aid administrators from institutions of a broad spectrum of types and controls, developed the questionnaire. The questionnaire had four sections covering (1) the application process, (2) federal methodology, (3) the delivery system, and (4) possible pros and cons of some of the simplification suggestions. More than 1,400 financial aid administrators at NASFAA member institutions responded to the survey. The survey results show: (1) More than 90 percent of the respondents support or strongly support the use of a "smart" electronic FAFSA linked to various federal databases to populate the appropriate data. Aid administrators feel that such matches will not only help reduce excessive administrative costs and decrease application error rates, but will also enable them to spend more time in assisting individual students; (2) More than 80 percent of aid administrators believe that a "smart" FAFSA will not hinder the proper administration of state or institutional grant programs; (3) Aid administrators are supportive of eliminating non-pertinent items from FAFSA, using a "FAFSA Postcard" for students from low-income families, and adding "consider me for financial aid" on IRS tax forms. They believe those methods could make the aid application process less overwhelming for needy students; (4) Aid administrators feel strongly that the requirements for Academic Competitiveness Grant eligibility must be simplified or standardized to reduce administrative burden; (5) Aid administrators believe a federal student aid system that uses one grant, one loan, and one work program would reduce confusion and frustration currently experienced by students and families as they try to understand various types of student aid available to them; and (6) Aid administrators caution that since the financial aid process involves both students and institutions, no real simplification can be achieved without taking into full consideration any accompanying administrative burden on the institution. Appended are: (1) Financial Aid Simplification Survey; and (2) About the Authors. (Contains 8 tables and 25 figures.)
National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. 1101 Connecticut Avenue NW Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-785-0453; Fax: 202-785-1487; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)