Alexander: Federal Government Complexity Keeps Student Aid from 3,000 Tri-Cities Families Every Year

Hosts roundtable at Northeast State Community College to discuss plan to cut complicated 108-question federal financial aid form down to 2-question postcard

Posted on September 30, 2014

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“My legislation would eliminate the dreaded FAFSA—and the wasted hours that go along with it—allowing guidance counselors at Tennessee High School or Hampton High School to focus on helping students graduate and choose the right college, rather than filling out unnecessary forms.”–Lamar Alexander

BLOUNTVILLE, September 30 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today hosted students, school officials, parents and guidance counselors from the Tri-Cities at a roundtable to discuss his plan to slash the complex federal financial aid form—the FAFSA—from 108 questions down to two, and help eliminate an obstacle that stands in the way of many students going to college. 

“Each year, 440,000 Tennessee families fill out the college financial aid form, but it could be more, if others weren’t discouraged by the complexity of the form,” Alexander said. “An estimated 3,000 families in Tri-Cities each year don’t complete the FAFSA because of its complexity, denying them the opportunity to take advantage of Governor Haslam’s Tennessee Promise that makes a two-year education free for high school graduates at any Tennessee community college or technical college. My legislation would eliminate the dreaded FAFSA—and the wasted hours that go along with it—allowing guidance counselors at Tennessee High School or Hampton High School to focus on helping students graduate and choose the right college, rather than filling out unnecessary forms.” 

Alexander has proposed, with Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), a draft bill to simplify the process of applying for and receiving federal financial aid to attend college, allow year-round use of Pell Grants, discourage over-borrowing and simplify repayments.

The bill would reduce to a single postcard—called the “Student Aid Short Form”—the questions any student must answer to apply for federal financial aid and inform high school students in their junior year of the amount they will receive in federal aid to help pay for college. It would also address the problem of some students borrowing too much money, and simplify the options students have to repay their federal loans. The legislation would also streamline federal grant and loan programs to better serve students more effectively.

Today’s roundtable, held at Northeast State Community College, also included representatives from East Tennessee State University, Milligan College, Bristol City Schools, Carter County Schools, and King University.

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