Group calls for FAFSA elimination

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form every year may soon be a thing of the past if a new proposal gains enough support. A report published by the College Board last week called for the elimination of FAFSA as well as a new loan repayment plan. The report was drafted by the Rethinking Student Aid study group, consisting of policy experts, researchers and higher education professionals who were put together by the College Board, a nonprofit organization specializing in college admissions, financial aid and enrollment. Kathleen Little, College Board senior advisor of student aid policy , said by eliminating the FAFSA, the application process could be much simpler. According to the report, the new plan would collect studentsâÄô information directly from the Internal Revenue Service. Aid would be determined only by adjusted gross income and family size. Applicants would only have to send in their name and address and sign a release to the IRS instead of filling out the multi-section FAFSA documents. The IRS would have to transmit the tax information to the U.S. Department of Education , who would determine Pell grant eligibility, Little said. That information would then be shared with respective states for state grants. A law would need to pass for the changes to be made, however âÄî something that could take years. Steven Moon, a business and marketing education junior, said having the IRS transmit financial information would make things easier. âÄúThey have all the information, so they wonâÄôt make errors or anything,âÄù Moon said. âÄúIf they make a mistake, we can blame them.âÄù Kris Wright , director of the UniversityâÄôs Office of Student Finance , said she sees some potential problems to the plan, however. She said the difficulty with the new program comes when something happens to a family within the year and there will still need to be a process for adjusting funds during the year. âÄúIf the student feels that there is something that is not reflected in last yearâÄôs tax return, for example a job loss, you can come in and talk to us about that,âÄù Wright said. She said she thought that kind of flexibility might not be available with the new program. Wright said she also recognizes problems with the current FAFSA. âÄúLow income families can find it very intimidating to fill out,âÄù she said. The College Board report also called for a loan repayment plan that would be proportional to the studentâÄôs post-graduation income. Wright said she thinks more students will depend on aid in the future, which could lead to potential problems for students paying back loans. Graduating in four years, she said, is most important in minimizing studentsâÄô debt. She also recommended careful spending. âÄúLive like a student now so you donâÄôt have to live like a student after you graduate,âÄù she said.