Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity


Posted at 4:00 PM ET, 01/ 5/2010

Good news: College financial aid form gets easier

By Valerie Strauss

Sometimes there is good news about the process of getting educated.

As of this month, according to a Post story by my colleague Nick Anderson, it is going to be easier to fill out the form required to obtain financial aid for college.

The form is called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as FAFSA, and it is used by federal and state governments as well as colleges to grant financial aid.

That aid can come in the form of grants, scholarships, work-study and federal student loans--and about 20 million of the forms are filed each year. The federal government alone is expected to award almost $170 billion in student aid based on FAFSA forms for the 2010-11 school year, according to Sallie Mae.

But the application has long been a bear to fill out, one that has been so intimidating that an estimated hundreds of thousands of families fail to complete it and miss out on assistance they might receive.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan had promised changes last year and today he delivered, announcing the streamlined form at a D.C. public school.

Families may fill out a paper FAFSA form but are being urged to apply online because there are a number of advantages. Questions that become unnecessary based on previous answers are automatically suppressed, and the FAFSA website is now much easier to navigate than it used to be.

Take a look and see for yourself.



Follow Valerie’s blog all day, every day, at http://washingtonpost.com/answersheet/

For all the Post’s Education coverage, please see http://washingtonpost.com/education

By Valerie Strauss  | January 5, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  College Admissions, College Costs, Education Secretary Duncan, Higher Education  | Tags:  college costs, financial aid  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Berliner: Why we are ‘smart’ about evaluating athletes and ‘dumb’ about assessing students, teachers and schools
Next: The link between sports titles and college applications

Comments

It's good to see the form getting simpler, but it really wasn't that difficult in the first place! Organization is the key. Know your income sources, assets, and debts, understand the difference between the parental information and student information areas, fill in the right blanks, and it's done. If you can prepare your taxes, or even just prepare your information so someone else can do your taxes, you can fill out the FAFSA.

Posted by: leuchars | January 6, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

It's good to see the form getting simpler, but it really wasn't that difficult in the first place! Organization is the key. Know your income sources, assets, and debts, understand the difference between the parental information and student information areas, fill in the right blanks, and it's done. If you can prepare your taxes, or even just prepare your information so someone else can do your taxes, you can fill out the FAFSA.

Posted by: leuchars | January 6, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it isn't difficult for families from backgrounds where they routinely keep track of assets and prepare their own taxes, but what about the kid with the deadbeat parents who are constantly overdrawn and have no idea about managing their money or refuse to help out?

Too many college administrators assume that all their students come from similar backgrounds and offer no help at all to the kid who may be the first to even finish high school and gets no support for his ambition at home.

Posted by: opinionatedreader | January 7, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

There is one major flaw with the FAFSA online form. The drop down menus are very poorly designed. When you click on your choice and move the mouse off of the menu, you still haven't finished with that drop down menu. So if you then roll the button on your mouse to move down the FAFSA page, you're still rolling through your choices on the drop down menu. Not until you click somewhere off of the drop down menu have you finalized your choice. This is a very rare design choice. We had various errors in our FAFSA because of this.

Posted by: gldat | January 11, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company