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Student Aid Administrators Recommend Improvements

August 6, 2020

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid should be further simplified by automatically including more data from IRS filings, including exploring whether wage information from W-2s could be used, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators said Wednesday.

The group issued 13 recommendations on making the financial aid application process more streamlined and transparent, based on 10 policy papers it commissioned.

Among other recommendations, the group said that the online application portal, FAFSA on the Web, should explain to applicants that information about their families receiving public benefits would not be used against them. “Students may be reluctant to disclose that their family accesses public benefits to support their basic needs. The reasons may vary from general stigma around using such benefits to concerns about potential verification requirements,” the group said. “Students may also hold an incorrect belief that using public benefits will be counted as income in the financial aid calculation and limit the financial aid they will receive, or they may fear the information will be used against them in some other way.”

"While reauthorization of the Higher Education Act continues to move at a snail’s pace, it’s imperative that we keep forward momentum going and use this time to ideate, discuss, and coalesce around ideas that will have meaningful impact for needy students and families for years to come," said NASFAA president Justin Draeger in a press release. "Improving the FAFSA is a vital step to give college students the support they need to access postsecondary education."

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