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Simplifying the FAFSA

There is widespread agreement that the current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a barrier to college access. The FAFSA is longer than the federal tax form, complex, intimidating in tone, and requires a great deal of personal and family financial information that can be especially difficult for low-income students to track down. Most simplification proposals focus on reducing the amount of information used to determine federal aid eligibility. Concerns about equity and cost tend to stall such efforts, because they could change who qualifies for aid and how much aid they receive. 

Support has grown steadily since we issued Going to the Source: A Practical Way to Simplify the FAFSA, in March 2007. Most significantly, Congress passed and President Bush signed the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), which encourages and empowers the U.S. Department of Education to simplify the FAFSA by pre-populating it with tax data as we have proposed. The Institute will continue to press for testing and implementation of this practical approach to simplification, as well as other ways to improve the financial aid process. 


Memo on Simplifying the FAFSA by Expanding Access to the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

 Coalition Letter Urging President Obama to Further Simplify the FAFSA

TICAS Comments on Draft 2013-14 Student Aid Application Materials

TICAS Comments on Draft 2012-13 Student Aid Application Materials 

Official comments of the Institute for College Access & Success on the U. S. Department of Education's draft 2011-12 FAFSA

After the FAFSA: How Red Tape Can Prevent Eligible Students From Receiving Financial Aid

FAFSA Simplification Plan Will Make It Easier for Students to Get College Aid

Official comments of the Institute for College Access & Success on the U.S. Department of Education's draft 2009-10 FAFSA

Going to the Source: A Practical Way to Simplify the FAFSA   


For recent news coverage about the FAFSA and TICAS see:

Paperwork Burden Prevents Some Applicants for Student Aid From Getting It, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/26/10

Report: Students stumble over tricky financial aid verification process, California Watch, 7/28/10

Tangled up in FAFSA: Aid red tape run amok, The Washington Post, 7/30/10





Simplifying the FAFSA Publications

Featured Work

Press Release

Legal Opinion

Higher Education Opportunity Act

Simplifying the FAFSA Publications

After the FAFSA

Our new report examines how the complicated process after students submit their federal financial aid application can keep them from getting grants they would otherwise qualify for. It includes recommendations for campuses and the federal government. 


Going to the Source: A Practical Way to Simplify the FAFSA

Our report outlines a way to make application for financial aid more simple, accurate, and secure by using income data the federal government already collects to answer many of the most difficult questions.

Official comment on 2009-10 FAFSA Form