Committee Democrats Introduce Bill to Simplify the FASFA
WASHINGTON – TODAY, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-01) introduced H.R. 4416, the Simple FASFA Act of 2017, co-led by Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), ranking member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, Congressman Gregorio Sablan (NMI-AL), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, and Congressman Ami Bera (CA-07).
Simplifying the FAFSA form ensures that more working families have access to available federal student aid, increasing college enrollment and completion. Data shows that students who complete the FAFSA are 63 percent more likely to attend college than students who do not complete the form.
“For many students, obtaining a college education or post-graduate certification is their ticket to a fulfilling career and a good paying job, but for students seeking federal financial aid, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) imposes burdensome requirements that too often create a barrier to entry for federal grants and loans, not a window of opportunity,” said Congresswoman Blunt Rochester (DE-01). “That’s why I’m proud to introduce the Simple FAFSA Act, which takes a good government approach in bringing students closer to the financial aid programs available to them, as well as utilizing the IRS Data Retrieval system to improve accuracy across government agencies. Whether you are a first-generation college student or come from a family that’s fallen on hard financial times, it is our duty as lawmakers to ensure that it is easier for you to access the programs that are available to you, and that’s exactly what this bill does.”
“The Simple FASFA Act is another component of our Aim Higher initiative which is focused on providing all students with access to a meaningful degree that costs less money and leads to a good-paying job,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03). “This bill contributes to this goal by making the application process for federal student aid easier, fairer, and more effective for working families.”
The Simple FAFSA Act of 2017 amends the Higher Education Act to remove barriers for students seeking federal financial aid by reducing the complexity and length of the FAFSA and increasing support for vulnerable populations. It seeks to accomplish these goals by:
- Creating three pathways based on the complexity of a student’s finances.
- Allowing very low-income students and families to qualify for a full Pell Grant.
- Increasing support for working students.
- Requiring the FAFSA to be filed only one time.
- Permitting use of income data from the previous year.
- Providing the FAFSA in multiple languages.
- Allowing DREAMers to afford college.
- Reinstating Pell Grant eligibility for students with drug-related offenses.
- Creating a standardized financial aid award letter.
“The Simple FAFSA Act of 2017 will move the needle on today’s FAFSA completion rate of only 61 percent among high school seniors,” said Kim Cook, National College Access Network. “Most importantly, the bill helps those who need the aid the most by eliminating financial questions for those families already receiving a means-tested benefit, sending a clear message that student aid is available.”
"This bill would dramatically improve and streamline the federal financial aid system for the benefit of students and families. Alongside other positive changes, the bill simplifies the complicated aid application process through codifying the use of prior-prior year tax data when filling out the FAFSA and promoting the use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, two changes Young Invincibles and other stakeholders advocated for earlier this year in a joint letter,” said Reid Setzer, Young Invincibles. “Additionally, it opens up more affordable access to higher education for more working and low-income students and expands eligibility for federal financial aid to underserved populations like DREAMers. Expanding and simplifying our aid system is an important way we can ensure more people gain access to affordable higher education, and this bill moves us in the right direction.”
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