A huge Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) accomplishment was realized in the coronavirus-relief bill that was signed into law by President Trump on Sunday, December 27. Currently overshadowed by the debated COVID relief stimulus checks and defense policy portions of the massive bill, the FAFSA Simplification Act is designed to make completing the form easier for college-bound and current college students. The higher-educational victory is detailed in section 701: Title VII, of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. According to Congress.gov, the FAFSA form will be reduced from 108 questions to 33.The outcome of this new law is to make completing the financial aid application easier for students and families. For years, many students voiced how cumbersome and confusing the free application was to complete. In return, the goal is to increase in number of FAFSAs completed by U.S. students and, as NPR reports, to “expand outreach to help at-risk students complete the form.” A Forbes article by Mark Kantrowitz reveals the shortened form will be available beginning July 1, 2023, giving the U.S. Department of Education ample time to adjust the form. This deadline outlook for the new form means current high school sophomores, students from the Class of 2023, are now on pace to be the first group of high school seniors to use the simplified 2023 –2024 FAFSA. Senator Lamar Alexander, the Senate Education Committee Chairman, is the congressman behind the financial aid form simplification. Alexander’s Website reports this accomplishment has been 20 years in the making. He also notes the FUTURE Act signed into law in 2019, which included the FAFSA update that uses the IRS data retrieval tool, as another stepping stone to the reduced-question victory.Alexander said in a recent interview with The 74, “[the FAFSA form simplification] should encourage millions more low-income Americans to take advantage of the grants and loans that the federal government offers for college.” As college costs continue to rise, many underprivileged, urban and rural students rely on the financial aid to help them pay for school.All students—high school seniors from the Class of 2021 to current college and graduate students of all years—should complete the FAFSA annually. The form becomes available on Oct. 1 each year.
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