FAFSA needs a fix

FAFSA should not assume that all parents contribute to tuition.

Daily Editorial Board

While the Free Application for Federal Student Aid helps many students pay for college, it leaves behind those whose parents don’t contribute to tuition. The FAFSA bases its financial aid awards on the assumption that a student’s family is the main support for paying tuition, which often isn’t true.

This method of awarding financial aid is flawed. Some students are left behind and knowingly ignored. Those students who do not receive family support while paying for tuition should receive more help from the University of Minnesota.

In special cases, students can appeal their financial aid award in hopes of receiving more help, but those cases are rare. Some students’ parents won’t help pay tuition because of their sexual orientation or choice of religion. Many times, middle class families simply can’t afford to help with tuition, especially with multiple children in the family attending college. This leaves a wide-  open gap for students to get stuck in when it comes to tuition. The University should set aside more funding for students who appear to have financial help, but realistically don’t. The federal government specifies that it won’t help students in this position.

This illogical policy was set in place in 1993, because too many families who could pay for college were claiming they couldn’t. The current system knowingly does not help many students. FAFSA should go back to its old policy and have the option to specify whether parents are helping financially or not. A small number of families gaming the system is a relatively small price to pay for every student to have access to the financial aid they need. Each method of calculating aid has its flaws, but we should be erring on the side of access to college for all.