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Saturday, September 30, 2023


FAFSA upgrades promise filing ease

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is necessary for many students — and with recent improvements, it can be a much easier process.

The Department of Education redesigned the 2011-2012 FAFSA and made it easier to use by adding a taxes import option and by eliminating 22 questions and 17 web screens from the online version.

Questions about enrollment status and the TEACH Grant have been removed from the new form, and the work-study question has been revised.

Izzy G. Anderson, director of scholarship services, grants and fund management, said that the new form would be less intimidating to applicants.

“It should take less time for the applicant to submit the initial information,” Anderson said.

One of the new features added to the online version of FAFSA is a tool that allows students to import their tax data from the IRS so they do not have to fill it out themselves.

This tool has been enhanced in the 2011-2012 version through expanded eligibility and Spanish language features.

Anderson said that this tool could help eliminate minor errors.

“Many students are not sure how to fill out the information about adjusted gross income, or simply make data entry errors,” Anderson said. “Additionally, applicants utilizing this feature will not be required to submit a hard copy tax form to the University if selected for verification.

“This results in a more streamlined verification process, reducing the workload and reducing time spent on each individual application.”

The new version of the online FAFSA has also been streamlined through a single login page and messaging that guides applicants through the process.

Gilberto Marmolejo, an undeclared sophomore, said it took him thirty minutes to complete the old FAFSA, but the new one is much easier to fill out.

“I needed help filling it out before,” Marmolejo said. “Now it’s a five minute process. They have a side tab that guides you through it now.”

Prospective UH student, Laurie Hill, completed a FAFSA form for the first time last week and agrees that it was an easy process.

“It was really easy and simple,” Hill said. “It only took about five minutes.”

The new version of the online FAFSA also filters out questions that do not apply to students and will not affect their eligibility. However, Anderson believes that this change will not speed up the application process.

“The need to report those data elements have not been changed,” Anderson said. “It is possible that it could increase the burden of documentation collection down to the school level and subsequently increase the number of corrections that need to be made to the initial application.

“The Department of Education is moving in the right direction,” Anderson said. “But the regulations remain the same and as financial aid administrators, we must remain alert to guarding compliance with all regulations.”

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