No one will deny that college is an expensive investment. But what people don’t talk about nearly as often are the financial aid opportunities available to students that can make college a reality. Conversations automatically go towards student loans and the astronomical national debt, but not towards federal student aid. In fact, studies have shown that only three out of five high school seniors file the FAFSA—the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. That means that 40% of high school students are not filing the FAFSA and taking advantage of potential aid. However, a new proposed FAFSA mobile app aims to change that stat.
Why Aren’t Students Filing the FAFSA?
There are many reasons a student or parent won’t end up filing the FAFSA. One common reason is that they don’t think they’ll qualify for aid because they have a stable financial situation. Maybe they find the FAFSA too complicated and intimidating. Or they simply don’t know about it.
The FAFSA determines a student’s financial need, and can give them the scholarships and grants that can help students attend college and further their education. Everyone should file the FAFSA. Everyone. But these reasons and elements still hold people back.
What the App Aims to Change
The Education Department hopes to revolutionize the FAFSA process by making a mobile app. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stresses an emphasis on “customer service” via the app. The goal is for students and parents to have a smooth and less painful experience.
The proposed app would make the FAFSA more readily available to students from all backgrounds. It is a much needed step forward to modernizing the form and making it more accessible. The app plan has been praised from both sides of the political spectrum, though concerns are still being raised over the FAFSA layout itself.
Other Proposed FAFSA Changes
Critics of the plan still point out the complication of the FAFSA itself. The mobile platform wouldn’t be able to change the inner workings, after all. Therefore, many are calling for an overhaul of the FAFSA form to simplify it. A less complicated form will make it easier for families to file and get the money they deserve.
Problems the App Might Not Solve
While the app would make the form more accessible and potentially encourage students to complete it through its slick layout, there’s still the problem of financial aid awareness. People can’t file what they don’t know exists. And if students don’t think they’d qualify, why would they bother with it?
It may not be a perfect plan, but it is a step in the right direction. As of right now, the proposed app is planned to roll out in April of 2018, ready for the 2019 aid season.