NCAN Proposes Streamlined FAFSA
The National College Access Network (NCAN) has released recommendations for streamlining the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form in the hope of getting more students to apply for financial aid.
A streamlined form reduces the complexity of the FAFSA, which bars some — especially first-generation college students — from receiving aid. The FAFSA currently has a 44 percent completion rate, leaving $24 billion in unclaimed federal aid, including $2.7 billion in Pell Grants.
NCAN expects that FAFSA completion could increase by 7.4 percent if the form were simplified. It also projects that Pell Grant expenditures would increase by about $1.4 billion. That translates to a 5.1-percent increase in the cost of the Pell Grant program.
Some of the top problems with FAFSA include a lack of understanding of the application process, overly complex questions and the length of the current form.
“These issues pose large, sometimes insurmountable, barriers for some students, especially first-generation college students,” NCAN says. “Low-income and first- generation students who do not complete the FAFSA often fail to enroll in college or complete a postsecondary education, shortchanging themselves, their families and the American economy.”
NCAN also says that high school graduates who complete the FAFSA are 63 percent more likely to enroll in college.
The FAFSA process designed by NCAN results in students answering about 25 questions regarding their financial history and sorts them into three tracks depending on their eligibility. Through consumer testing, the redesigned form was found to result in 50 percent fewer questions that needed to be answered, a 39 percent improvement in completion time and a 56 percent lower error rate.