Thursday, June 25, 2009

FAFSA Light?

A government plan to simplify the current financial aid application process was reported by the New York Times yesterday. The aim of this new plan is to reduce the number of questions on the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) form to make it easier for families to apply for financial aid.

While simplification is a laudable goal, the plan does nothing to address the affordability of higher education. Need calculations will remain the same, limiting the number of families who qualify for federal assistance and, by extension, institutional assistance as the FAFSA is the yardstick most institutions use to determine family need. As I posted earlier this month, Grinnell’s President Osgood recently wrote an op-ed for The Chronicle of Higher Education on the need to fix the FAFSA.

Making the financial aid process more user-friendly is a step in the right direction but without reworking the calculation of need we’re simply putting a new cover on an old story.

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