Skip to content

Alexander: Time to Simplify the FAFSA

At Higher Education Act reauthorization hearing, says there is a consensus on how to make it easier for the nearly 20 million students who apply for federal aid

WASHINGTON, November 28, 2017 — Senate education Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said that, “after four years of discussions over how to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA, it is time to come to a result to make it easier for students to apply for federal financial aid.”                                                                                                             
“Nearly 20 million students fill out the FAFSA every year and we have heard over and over that the 108-question form is difficult to complete and its complexity discourages students from applying,” Alexander said. “There is a consensus on how to make it easier for these students to apply for federal aid.”

Alexander continued: “Senator Bennet and I, along with Senators Burr, Isakson, King and Booker, introduced legislation to cut the 108 questions down to two. Others have had good ideas on how to make the FAFSA less burdensome for students. For example, Senator Murray has a bill to simplify the FAFSA process for homeless students and students without parents.”

“The result of all this is that Senator Bennet and I are now completing work on a bill that would reduce the FAFSA from 108 questions to as few as 15 and no more than 25 questions, depending on how you answer questions about your family. We will do this principally by taking the tax information that Americans give to the federal government and incorporating that tax information into the FAFSA.”

“Over and over again, across Tennessee, I have been asked, if I have already given my tax information to the federal government, why do I have to give it again for the FAFSA? My answer is that you shouldn’t have to. Once is enough.”

Today’s hearing was focused on proposals to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly called the FAFSA. Alexander said, “Our first order of business after the first of the year will be to mark up a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. My central focus will be to make it simpler and easier for students to apply for federal aid and to pay their loans back and easier for college administrators to cut through the jungle of bureaucratic red tape.”

Alexander’s full prepared remarks here.