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ERIC Number: ED506383
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Sep
Pages: 28
Abstractor: ERIC
Simplifying Student Aid: The Case for an Easier, Faster, and More Accurate FAFSA
Executive Office of the President
Each year, more than 16 million college students and their families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). They spend hours answering needlessly complicated and intrusive questions that undermine the fundamental goal of student aid: to help more students attend and graduate from college. In this report the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the National Economic Council (NEC) discuss the need to simplify the process of applying for federal student aid, describe President Obama's plan for simplification, and analyze the potential impact of such improvements on Pell grant recipients. This report reviews the evidence that the current federal student aid application hinders postsecondary educational attainment, particularly among low-income students. It also presents the Obama Administration's three-part strategy for significantly simplifying this process. First, applicants are already benefitting from improvements in the online FAFSA, with more streamlining to come in January 2010. Second, the Administration is in the process of allowing applicants to access data they have provided to the IRS and electronically transfer them to the Department of Education. Finally, Congress is considering legislation to eliminate most questions about savings and income adjustments that are not available from the IRS, further reducing the time required to complete the form while also improving the accuracy and verifiability of the information. An analysis of data on financial aid applicants suggests that these changes would have a very small impact on student aid eligibility and the amount of aid granted. This finding suggests that the proposed simplification of the financial aid application will help increase college enrollment by making college more affordable for millions of eligible students. The appendix describes restriction of data in order to provide a more accurate picture of the impact of simplification on students who actually receive Pell awards, rather than students who would have received zero Pell amounts under any formula. (Contains 4 tables, 3 figures, and 36 notes.)
Executive Office of the President. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500. Tel: 202-456-1111; Fax: 202-456-2461; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Council of Economic Advisers, Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Pell Grant Program; Perkins Loan Program