Audrey Wilson, Analyst
President Obama announced forthcoming changes to the financial aid timeline last week: prospective students will soon be able to begin submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in October, rather than January. But what does this mean for the students submitting the FAFSA? One implication of this change is that students will have more time to complete the FAFSA before submitting an application at a community college, time that students desperately need given the complexity of the application.
Despite Senators Lamar Alexander (TN-R) and Michael Bennet’s (CO-D) efforts over the past year to simplify the FAFSA from 108 questions down to two, the FAFSA is still too complicated for many students to complete on their own. The consequences of students’ failed or imperfect attempts at FAFSA submission are staggering. In 2014, 42% of Pell-eligible community college students never completed a FAFSA, leaving $3 billion of federal aid unclaimed.