Alexander: Federal Government Complexity Keeps Student Aid from 8,000 Memphis Families Each Year

Hosts Memphis forum to discuss plan to cut complex 108-question federal financial aid form down to 2-question postcard

Posted on September 4, 2014

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“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.” –Lamar Alexander

MEMPHIS, September 4 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today hosted Memphis students, school officials, and members of the city’s business community at a forum 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 8,000 families in Memphis each year don’t complete the FAFSA because of its complexity. This denies 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. Government forms shouldn’t get in the way of Memphians going to college, and they shouldn’t take an Overton or White Station High School guidance counselor away from helping students graduate to fill 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’ll 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 more students more effectively. 

Today’s forum, held at Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Macon Cove Campus, included representatives from University of Memphis, LeMoyne Owen College, Christian Brothers University, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Moore Tech and Tennessee College of Applied Technology, the municipal school districts, Shelby County Schools, the Achievement School District and charter schools. 

 

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