Gates Foundation proposes alterations to FAFSA
As the government proposes possible changes to the FAFSA application, The Gates Foundation’s leading argument, is that the jargon and length can cause confusion, exhaustion and mistakes that affect millions college students.
Many demographics, from student to faculty, believe that changes would be welcome.
“As dean, I support any changes to make the process easier and increase the number of students matriculating directly to college,” said Bob McPherson, Dean of the College of Education.
Every student seeking some type of financial aid — whether it is a federal grant, a scholarship or a subsidized loan — has to fill out the FAFSA application.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than $150 billion of financial aid is given to 13 million students paying for college across America through FAFSA. The application consists of approximately 130 questions and several entries for the household’s tax information.
These two factors are what members of the Gates Foundation are targeting. A recent proposition by the organization includes three changes to this national application.
The first is an elimination of complex questions that apply to a small portion of applicants.
“Personally, the FAFSA process was a complex and long process that required myself and my parents to put aside a good portion of the day to complete,” information and logistics technology freshman Jonathon Gomez said. “I (had) to fill out or skip a lot of things that didn’t pertain to me as (an) average high school student. (They) caused more confusion and frustration than anything.”
The second change is a direct link to the IRS automatically filling tax related questions.
Brandie Cleaver, director of communications for the College of Education, said that a direct link to the IRS is a huge benefit for students and parents.
“The steps to completing the FASFA are at times difficult,” Cleaver said. “Parents and students needed assistance. The direct link to the IRS and not having to wait for parents to complete the current year’s taxes seems to be an advantage for students.”
The third change is the usage of tax information from two years ago allowing students the opportunity to fill out the application without having to wait for their parents to do the current year’s taxes. This change has resulted in mixed reactions.
Chemistry senior Thuy Cao hasn’t filed for FAFSA in three years, but she still remembers the complicated process from freshman year.
“A lot of things can change in two years,” Cao said. “There can be a family where a student’s parents (made) a lot of money but two years later one or both parents can be out of their job. So if that student applied that year and was recalling info from two years ago they wouldn’t get the FAFSA they deserve.”
Like Gomez, some think that waiting on parents to fill out taxes, another long process, adds to the length of filling out the FAFSA application.
“I think this new proposal would cut a lot of the time away in the application process, and allow more kids go take initiative in filling out their application faster,” Gomez said.
Although there are mixed feeling about the Gates Foundation’s proposal, there is a consensus among college students everywhere that the FAFSA process should change.
“College (students) have enough to deal with,” said biology sophomore Sebrin Adbu. “I feel like FAFSA, which should be ‘helping us’, shouldn’t have to be another thing on our plate worrying us.”