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.
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.