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Booker Announces Legislation Promoting College Affordability

Streamlines the FAFSA application process so students and their families can more easily get the aid they need and deserve

July 27, 2015

Washington, DC – U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) today reintroduced the Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act of 2015, legislation that simplifies the financial aid process and increases the accessibility and affordability of higher education for students and their families.

“It is vital that we work to reduce the burden of the financial aid process because it should never be easier to finance a car or a home than to finance a long-term investment in a young person’s education,” Sen. Booker said. “The Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act reforms and streamlines the FAFSA application process so students and their families can more easily get the aid they need and deserve.”

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives last week.

“The complexity of applying for student financial assistance remains a barrier to higher education,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett said. “Over 2 million perspective students eligible for assistance do not file an application. Fix FAFSA, remove the barrier to success, assist disadvantaged students to gain the advantage of higher education and to work their way into the middle class.”

The Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act of 2015 allows for the use of tax data from the preceding year. Currently, students can file the FAFSA to qualify for Pell Grant and Direct Loans at any point in the award year, but that is not the case for certain types of state aid, which are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Many institutions of higher education require students to file their FASFA “as soon as possible after January 1, 2012” in order to receive state aid. Employers do not have to provide W-2 forms until the end of January and many students are unable to complete the FASFA until February at the earliest, which can result in families not receiving the maximum aid they are eligible to receive. Basing eligibility on tax data from the prior year will ease the burden on these families by allowing them to submit tax forms they already possess and file for aid sooner.

The Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act of 2015 would also return the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) income threshold from $23,000 to $30,000, which would ensure families with incomes of $30,000 or less will receive the maximum in Pell grant funding. Currently, families making $23,000 or less automatically qualify for the maximum Pell Grant. Nearly 75% of Pell Grant recipients had a family income of $30,000 or less in 2011-12. Among the recipients who received the maximum amount, 92% had a family income of $30,000 or less in 2011-12. Increasing the EFC threshold will help more students receive the maximum in grant funding. Returning the expected family contribution (EFC) income threshold to $30,000 would ensure families with incomes of $30,000 or less will receive the maximum Pell grant and do more to provide students the financial means to go to college.