The Big Test Before College? The Financial Aid Form

Publication: The New York Times

Author: Tamar Lewin


02/21/2009 - Most everyone agrees that something is very wrong with the six-page federal form for families seeking help with college costs.

Created in 1992 to simplify applying for financial aid, it has become so intimidating — with more than 100 questions — that critics say it scares off the very families most in need, preventing some teenagers from going to college.

Then, too, some families have begun paying for professional help with the form, known as the Fafsa, a situation that experts say indicates just how far awry the whole process has gone.

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Some researchers have found that the form could be drastically simplified without any great impact on students’ aid eligibility. But experts warn that if the form becomes too simple, some states and universities might create new forms to get additional information.

“In the long run, I think the Fafsa will get easier,” said Lauren Asher, acting president of the Institute for College Access and Success. “But not this year.”

Read the full article The Big Test Before College? The Financial Aid Form on the New York Times' Web site.

Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the Project on Student Debt Web site or visit the The Project on Student Debt on PewHealth.org.

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