Obama administration announces a kinder, gentler FAFSA

As anyone who has ever applied for financial aid knows, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is not exactly user-friendly. With up to 153 questions, FAFSA is a confusing inconvenience for families that are financially literate and a huge stumbling block to claiming Federal aid for families that aren’t (a study by the American Council on Education showed that in the there are approximately 1.5 million students who are eligible for Pell grants but didn’t apply).

The FAFSA’s strangling effect on financial aid applications could be coming to an end, though. Yesterday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the Obama administration’s plans for simplifying the FAFSA process.

Twenty percent of the questions will be eliminated (mostly removing redundancies) and the number of web pages you’ll have to go through to complete the form will be cut in half. They are also looking into a way to allow families to automatically fill in the information they’ve already submitted to the IRS.

The changes should be made in time for the next round of FAFSA applications in January 2010.

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