Alexander Plan Will Prevent More than 10,000 Nashville Families From Losing Out On College Aid Every Year

Hosts Lipscomb University forum to discuss plan to “start from scratch” on higher education regulations, cut “dreaded” 108-question FAFSA to 2-question postcard

Posted on October 24, 2014

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“There are 440,000 Tennessee families already filling out the form each year, and if we simplify the form, even more Tennesseans will be able to take advantage of Governor Haslam's promise that two years of community college are tuition free.” –Lamar Alexander

NASHVILLE, Oct. 24 – Joined by Senator Angus King (I-Maine), U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander today hosted Nashville-area high school and college students, parents and guidance counselors at a Lipscomb University forum to discuss his plan to slash the complex federal financial aid form—the FAFSA—from 108 questions down to two. 

“Each year, more than 10,000 Nashville-area families lose out on federal financial aid for college because they’re discouraged by an overly complicated form—my proposal would eliminate this obstacle to college by cutting that form from 108 questions down to two,” Alexander said.

Senator King said: “Today, more and more students are graduating with an amount of debt that's akin to having a mortgage – but they've got no house to show for it. We ask our students to go to college and then send them off to begin their career with a tremendous weight on their backs -- one that only stifles their ability to take a job they might really want because they have to take a job that allows them to pay their loans. It's not right. And it's why we need to continue to talk about this issue, why we need to examine ways to make education more affordable, and why we need to find ways to remove red tape to make the system more user-friendly to students – like my bill to improve federal student loan repayment options and Senator Alexander's to simplify the financial aid application form – so that we can expand the talent pool of students to better compete in the 21st century economy, rather than lose them to a system that's too confusing. I thank Senator Alexander for the opportunity to join him for today's roundtable and look forward to continuing to work with him to make education easier to access and more affordable.”

Lipscomb University graduate Derrica Donelson participated in today’s event. Alexander, the senior Republican on the Senate education committee, had invited Donelson to testify on the topic of college affordability at an April 2013 hearing.

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.

Alexander’s 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. 

Alexander said today: “There are 440,000 Tennessee families already filling out the form each year, and if we simplify the form, even more Tennesseans will be able to take advantage of Governor Haslam's promise that two years of community college are tuition free.”

Senator King has also released a proposal to make loan repayment more affordable for the middle class by eliminating duplicative repayment options, streamlining eligibility terms, and ensuring that borrowers will never direct more than 15 percent of their discretionary income to their loan payments.

Today’s roundtable included Jerry Faulkner, president of Volunteer State Community College; Tiffany Summers, Lipscomb’s director of financial aid; high school guidance counselors; students and parents.

  

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