Education

At Georgia State University, DeVos Promises Simpler Financial Aid Process

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited Georgia State University on Tuesday to see the school’s student advisement center and to talk to students about their experiences applying for federal financial aid.
Credit Al Such / WABE
Audio version of this story here.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sat down with a group of students at Georgia State University in Atlanta on Tuesday.

She came to see GSU’s student advisement center and to talk to students about their experiences applying for federal financial aid.

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U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited Georgia State University on Tuesday to see the school’s student advisement center and to talk to students about their experiences applying for federal financial aid.
While meeting with U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday,  a group of Georgia State University students described problems they have encountered filling out a form called FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. (Al Such/WABE)

When it came to the latter, students described problems they encountered filling out a form called FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Students have to fill out a FAFSA form before they can apply for any federal financial assistance. The students said the form is too long and confusing. It asks for tax information they don’t understand. It’s easy to make mistakes that disqualify you from receiving aid, they said.

“It can be difficult — the finances part — especially since I’ve never had to deal with doing my own taxes and stuff,” said GSU student Amila Shake. “So trying to get that information from my parents can be hard.”

Then DeVos posed this question:

“What if you could complete your FAFSA on a mobile phone in one sitting?”

“That would be great,” the students replied.

“That’s the goal,” DeVos said.

While meeting with U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday, Georgia State University described problems they have encountered filling out a form called FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. (Al Such/WABE)
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said many students don’t event attempt to fill out the FAFSA form because it is “so off-putting and cumbersome.” Simplifying FAFSA is part of an overhaul of the federal student aid system. (Al Such/WABE)

DeVos said the infrastructure that handles federal student loans is about 20 years old and needs to be updated. Simplifying FAFSA is part of an overhaul of the entire federal student aid system.

“We know there is a high percentage of students that never even attempt the form because it is so off-putting and cumbersome,” she said. “So, part of the goal is to simplify the process.”

An Education Department spokeswoman said the head of the Federal Student Aid office will unveil a new servicing platform Wednesday meant to improve the way students interface with the financial aid application process.