Senators Jones, Alexander seek to make financial aid application simpler


U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Alabama)

Less than half of Alabama students filed their Free Application for Federal Student Aid last year.

U.S. Senator Doug Jones wants to simplify the process to encourage more students to file their forms.

Because those students didn’t file their application, $57.5 million in federal aid was left up for grabs.

Data shows that students who file their FAFSA forms are more likely to attend college than those who do not seek federal assistance like through grants or scholarships.

The FAFSA forms come with over 100 questions, which can intimidate students who fill the forms out by themselves.

Senator Jones and Tennessee’s U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander are pushing legislation that would cut those questions down to 30 or less.

The questions that would be eliminated are ones the federal government already knows – like tax information.

The 17-30 questions left would cover basic information like the student`s name, social security number, date of birth, high school and the colleges the student is interested in.

This legislation is a piece of a package of eight bills called the Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019.

The package also includes bills that provide permanent mandatory funding for historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions.

It would make prisoners eligible for Pell grants and let students use their Pell grant for short-term training programs in high-demand fields like cybersecurity and health care.

The bill would also simplify financial aid offer letters for student understanding, among other things.

In a statement, Senator Jones said that he hopes to fundamentally change the FAFSA process and make it easier for students to access funding that will make their dream of attaining a degree possible.

The proposal would not affect the form for the 2020-2021 session, because FAFSA already opened on October 1.