Paperwork Burden Prevents Some Applicants for Student Aid From Getting It

Advocates for college access have long argued that the application students must file to receive federal financial aid is too complicated. But simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or Fafsa, might not be enough to ensure access.

Less attention has been paid to the additional paperwork many students must complete to receive aid, but that burden, too, can prevent otherwise-eligible students from getting the money they need to pay for college, according to a new report from the Institute for College Access & Success. The report, which tracks students who applied for aid to attend 13 California community colleges, found that on average about a third of those applicants who appeared to be eligible for federal Pell Grants did not receive them.

One of the main hurdles is a process called verification, in which the Education Department flags applications and then colleges collect documentation to confirm that the information on them is correct.

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