Student Aid Application Simpler, Official Says

The notoriously daunting Free Application for Federal Student Aid has been streamlined for the 2010-11 academic year – a move that will simplify the financial aid process for many students, according to a University of Tennessee official.

Beginning this month, students and parents who fill out the online college financial aid form will find fewer questions, simpler wording, more information and friendlier navigation.

"In the past, it’s been a very labor-intensive application form," Jeff Gerkin, UT’s director of financial aid, said. "It can be very daunting, especially for first-generation college students – this will be a big benefit to a lot of families."

Gerkin said the FAFSA, which is a requirement for applying for grants, student loans, federal work study and need-based scholarships, has been available online for several years, and there are benefits to filling out the online version instead of the paper version.

"The FAFSA on the Web generates correction edits, so it’s a much cleaner application that’s much more accurate in the end," Gerkin said.

Additionally, the new version has "enhanced skip logic," which lets students skip questions that don’t apply.

Gerkin said the FAFSA will eventually allow students to transfer existing IRS data on the Web, which will further streamline the process.

In the past, the form has proved intimidating for many students, who end up giving up on filling out the FAFSA because the process is too difficult. Gerkin said he hopes the streamlined version will encourage more students to apply.

"We’re very excited about it," Gerkin said. "It will really help our students complete the FAFSA in a more timely manner and more accurately."


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