The Free Application for Federal Student Aid “could and should be eliminated.” That was the consensus testimony of Kim Cook, executive director of the National College Access Network (NCAN) and three other national experts in the college access field at a US Senate hearing held last week on November 14.
“The sad truth is that 2.3 million students who would have qualified for federal student aid still do not file the FAFSA,” said Cook. Her testimony was recorded as part of “Ensuring Access to Higher Education: Simplifying Federal Student Aid for Today’s College Student,” a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Cook’s comments begin at the 35:15 mark.
To encourage greater participation in the financial aid process, Cook and other witnesses at the senate hearings encouraged the replacement of FAFSA by a simpler system based on family size and adjusted gross income. “Those students who do apply are often discouraged later in the process by burdensome verification requirements to produce tax transcripts and other supplemental applications,” Cook added.
The full text of Cook’s testimony can be read here. She was joined by Dr. Bridget Terry Long, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Dr. Judith Scott-Clayton, Columbia University and Kristin Conklin, Founding Partner, HCM Strategists. Other recommendations advised by all four panelists included:
- Use prior-prior tax year data so that students would know how much aid they qualified for before applying to college.
- Create an incentive in the Pell Grant program for students to take 15 credit hours a semester, which would encourage on time completion.
- Develop a year-round Pell Grant program to allow for continuous enrollment in higher education.
Florida C.A.N.! is an active member of NCAN. We congratulate their policy team on taking advantage of this national opportunity to weigh in on reforming this complicated financial aid form that has proven to be a stumbling block for millions of low-income and first-generation families.