Bennet Meets with Local Students, Counselors, School Administrators to Discuss Simplifying FAFSA

Bipartisan Bill would shorten FAFSA form from 108 questions to a postcard

Would mean more access for more students to financial aid and college

Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet met with Colorado Community College System President Dr. Nancy McCallin, Pueblo Community College President Patty Erjavec, UCCS Chancellor Pamela Shockley-Zalabak and local students, counselors, and school administrators at Pueblo Community College to discuss his bill to simplify the process for applying for financial aid for college.  The bill would reduce the current 10 page, 108 question Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to a single postcard, encouraging more students to apply for aid and allowing more students to access higher education.  In 2011-12, an estimated 2 million students who would have qualified for Pell grants did not file a FAFSA form.  Eliminating the current form is expected to save student’s families millions of hours each year.

“At a time when other countries are making it easier to attend college, our priority should be ensuring that higher education is as accessible as possible to as many students as possible,” Bennet said. “Many of the questions on the current form are redundant and unnecessary.  Not only are we wasting millions of hours of time that could be spent on preparing for college, we are deterring many students from even filling out the form.  The two questions asked on the short form created by this bill will cover the majority of students and encourage more students to attain a degree.”

“While 74% of our students qualified for federal financial aid, only 53% of PCC students actually received federal financial aid.  The question of what happened to the remaining 21% is an important issue to be addressed,” said Pueblo Community College President Patty Erjavec, who served as moderator of the discussion. “We are hopeful that Senator Bennet’s bill will be part of the answer.  Access and affordability remains paramount to higher education attainment.”

The Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency Act (FAST)- co-sponsored with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) - will also allow year-around use of Pell Grants, discourage over borrowing, simplify repayments, and streamline federal grant and loan programs to better serve more students more effectively.

In more detail The FAST Act would transform the federal financial aid process by accomplishing the following:

  1. Eliminating the Free Application for Financial Student Aid, or FAFSA: The bill would reduce the 10-page form to a postcard that would ask just two questions: What is your family size? And, what was your household income two years ago?
  2. Telling families early in the process of what the federal government will provide them in grants and loans. The bill would create a look-up table to allow students in their junior year of high school to see how much in federal aid they are eligible for as they are start to look at colleges.
  3. Streamlining the federal grant and loan programs. The bill would combine two federal grant programs into one Pell grant program and reduce the six different federal loan programs into three: one undergraduate loan programone graduate loan program, and one parent loan program, resulting in more access for more students. 
  4. Enabling students to use Pell grants in a manner that works for them. The bill would restore year-round Pell grant availability and provide flexibility so students can study at their own pace. Both provisions would enable them to complete college sooner.
  5. Discouraging over-borrowing. The bill would limit the amount a student is able to borrow based on enrollment. For example, a part-time student would be able to take out a part time loan only.
  6. Simplifying repayment options. The bill would streamline complicated repayment programs and create two simple plans, an income based plan and a 10-year repayment plan.

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