The New York Times printed an article this morning talking about how the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is too cumbersome for most families to fill out. They cited how some families are even turning to paid consultants to complete the form, paying somewhere between $80 and $100 per application (which defeats the whole purpose of a free application).
Clearly, if you’ve read this blog over the years, you know that I have a long and storied history with student loans. Over the course of my 7 years as an undergraduate and graduate student I filled out a bunch of these things; my Mother and I filled out my first few FAFSA forms and I filled out the last few. What I remember about filling out the forms was not that it was tedious (filling out any government form is tedious), but rather that the results reports were not good enough.
In other words, you’d put together this FAFSA and then get a report back (mine was from my undergraduate institute) telling you which aid you qualified for based on your responses. The report didn’t speak to potential repayment scenarios or to existing debts under each program; both pieces of information could really help students and their families make better decisions. I’m not sure why this information isn’t included in the report as both the federal government and the college have the information at their fingertips.
The FAFSA should be changed, but this change should be a part of changing the entire student loan process.
I can’t believe parents and students think the FAFSA form is too “cumbersome” to fill out. Wow. In my opinion, that simply speaks to the status of a very, very lazy generation (mostly our generation, but our parents’ generation is certainly no better). I don’t consider myself representative of this, and I filled out every single one of my FAFSA forms (three for undergrad, one for graduate) by myself, asking my parents for their info and whatnot. I understand that some families are not as open with each other, but honestly: It’s truly not “that complicated.” I agree that it is tedious, and I remember never looking forward to filling out a tax-form-like document. But seriously, paying a consultant?? Ridiculous. This is why society is crumbling to the floor as we speak. Despite its problems (I also agree about the FAFSA report, it doesn’t say much of anything or explain anything in detail), there was/is/should be a TON of free Federal and state money for students to tap into. For them and/or their parents to whine about is obscene.
Completely agree. After doing a few of these things they’re definitely not hard. Annoying? Sure. But what government form isn’t annoying?
I find it remarkable that our society has reached a point where instead of trying to lift all people to a certain level of understanding when it comes to a form like, we – instead – are trying to dumb down the form.
But like I said, I think the entire process is broken so dumbing down the form on its own isn’t good enough.
Marty Hawrysko says
I hated filling out those FAFSAs. I am part of the lazy generation in that regard, however, I never paid any consultants to fill those out. They are long and boring, and they just take a matter of time. That’s what life consists of, so if you’re not willing to stomach it in college, then it doesn’t say much about your ambitions once you enter the “real world.”
Jacob Spades says
My younger brother and I have had 6 years of experience filling out those forms. Needless to say, any time my parents hear ‘FAFSA’ they turn and run in the other direction, even compare it to the education system’s form of tax season. I’m sure if they knew we’d even have a chance to get a dime in aid then they wouldn’t be so apprehensive but in all of these years we were never once considered.
I agree with the lack of constructive feedback after having a decision rendered. We never really learned why we aren’t eligible for any of those funds, but we think it’s because we ‘make too much money’ (dad is a pharmacy manager and mom is self-employed). Nevermind the fact that they have 4 children, and all boys at that, to provide for and the enormous amount of taxes taken out of their paychecks. After the dust settles, we usually have to fend for ourselves, and in times like these it’s now always that easy!