College Board Offers Proposals For Simplifying Student Financial Aid

Career College Central summary:

  • Prospective students from low-income backgrounds need information on financial aid at a younger age, and an easier way to get access to that money when they need it for college. That’s the perspective guiding a set of proposals for simplifying the financial-aid system that was released by the College Board on Wednesday. The proposals appear in a new paper, “Back to Basics: Simplifying the Financial Aid Process to Increase Access & Success,” written for the second phase of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery project. The College Board is part of the project’s consortium working on simplification and transparency.
  • In its paper, the College Board offers proposals in five areas: simplifying the aid-application process; making federal-aid eligibility clearer; using older tax data; providing needed data to colleges and states; and providing early information to families.
  • The application process for federal financial aid has become somewhat easier lately, the paper points out, now that students and parents can use the IRS data-retrieval tool to populate the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or Fafsa. Still, it argues, the process could be simpler. To make it so, the paper recommends basing federal aid only on financial data that can be gathered from the IRS. It suggests that students whose families aren’t required to file federal tax forms automatically qualify for a maximum Pell Grant. It suggests using "prior-prior year" tax data, and letting students who’ve experienced a change in circumstances (like the death of a parent) appeal their eligibility determination.

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