Imagine if college students could apply for financial aid by simply sending back a postcard.
If two senators had their way, that could one day be a reality. The bipartisan bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, and Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, aims to simplify the federal financial aid process. US News reports that the proposed legislation would eliminate the FAFSA form (which stands for Free Application for Financial Student Aid) with a postcard that merely asks for a student’s name, address, family size and annual income.
"Every year, 20 million students waste millions of hours and countless dollars on a 100-question application form that only needs to be the size of a postcard," Alexander said in a statement. "This bill would cut more than 100 questions down to two, and help families get aid information sooner, while protecting taxpayers from lending more money to students than they’re able to repay."
The bill would also restructure the types of loans students and parents could receive. There are currently 6 types of loans available through FAFSA. The senators want to streamline that down to three: one of undergrads, one for graduate students and one for parents.
Currently, over a million students who are eligible for financial aid do not fill out a FAFSA form. It’s believed that because the form is so complicated students feel discouraged from even trying to fill it out. NPR reports that many of the students who do not apply for FAFSA would have received substantial amounts of aid had they done so.
Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.