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U.S. Senator Booker Announces Legislation Promoting College Affordability

May 14, 2014

Washington, DC – U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) today introduced the Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act of 2014, legislation that simplifies the financial aid process and increases the accessibility and affordability of higher education for students and their families.

“The Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act of 2014 calls for practical improvements to an application process that is commonly underutilized and often overwhelming for families of the greatest need,” Sen. Booker said. “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. This legislation includes reform measures that streamline the application process while ensuring that struggling families are able to maximize their eligibility to receive federal grant funding. With so many young college graduates riddled with debt, this is a practical solution that can support our young people and their families.”

The Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act of 2014 allows for the use of tax data from the preceding year. Currently, students can file the FAFSA to get the 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 2014 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.

The following education organizations have submitted letters supporting the Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act of 2014:

·National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) letter
·National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) letter
·American Council on Education (ACE) letter
·National College Access Network (NCAN) letter