The Daily Times: Alexander, DeVos demonstrate new FASFA app in East Tennessee

Posted on November 14, 2018

The Daily Times: Alexander, DeVos demonstrate new FASFA app in East Tennessee

By: Sarah Grace Taylor

November 14, 2018

SEVIERVILLE — In Tennessee, around 400,000 people complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually, the most of any state per capita.

For U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, making the process of acquiring financial aid easier is a top a priority.

“That’s why the state of Tennessee says you have free tuition (for community college for qualified students), but you don’t have free tuition unless you fill this thing out,” Alexander said as he unfurled about 15 pages of the 108-question paper FAFSA. “I have introduced legislation to simplify this, but in the meantime, (Sec. Betsy) DeVos has done something to make it much simpler to fill this out.

Alexander and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos presented the Department of Education’s new myStudentAid mobile app to a group of students at Sevier County High School Tuesday, to aid in the simplification of the FAFSA process.

The app, launched on Oct. 1, allows college students and prospective college students to complete the FAFSA on Apple or Android devices.

Alexander — a Maryville native, former Education Department secretary and current chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions — has long championed the app and the simplification of the FAFSA process, according to DeVos.

“I remember from very early on (Alexander) unrolling that lengthy form and continuing to beat the drum on how tough this has been for students and families, how complicated, how overly complex,” DeVos said. “One of his challenges to me was to see what we could do to make it simpler within the statutory language that Congress has given us. And so, we took that challenge and with our team at Federal Student Aid decided we would do what we could with first steps to make it much simpler.”

While DOE representatives have been touring the country presenting the app to students, this was DeVos’ first appearance, which she accredited to her respect for Alexander.

“I was looking forward to doing one of these with Senator Alexander,” DeVos said after the event. “Coming to Sevier County in Tennessee is the cherry on top to show how the app is making things easier.”

After other representatives of the Department of Education demonstrated the app and form to the students, DeVos fielded questions from students and college councilors of the school. By the end of the demonstration, the roughly 20 students had completed around half of the FAFSA, putting them well on their way to applying for federal financial aid.

Through the free app, students will also have a myriad of college comparison resources through the College Scorecard system.