A Promise to Students: Improving How We Award Federal Student Aid

As the father of twins who recently graduated from college, I can appreciate what you or your parents go through each year as you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA® form. As you know, completing this form can open the door to your higher education dreams by providing federal student grants, work-study funds, and loans. The FAFSA form can also unlock other opportunities for grants and scholarships from states, schools, and private organizations.

Over the years,
Federal Student Aid (FSA) has taken steps to make it easier for you to fill out
the FAFSA form. For example, we’ve simplified the process so you only see
questions that pertain to you, and we continue to partner with the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) so you and your parents can retrieve tax return
information for the FAFSA form. We also made it easier to fill out the form on
your mobile device. And, speaking of mobile devices, we continue to update the
myStudentAid mobile app, where we guide you through the process with helpful
prompts and checklists that remind you about important actions you need to take
to apply for federal student aid.

Still, more improvements are
coming, and there are big changes ahead. You deserve every opportunity to
pursue your higher education dreams, and I promise that FSA will provide you
the best possible FAFSA experience. Recent legislation passed by Congress will:

  • expand
    your access to Federal Pell Grants and subsidized loans, including making
    incarcerated students eligible for Federal Pell Grants;
  • change
    the methodology we use to calculate how much federal student aid you and your family receive;
  • improve
    the exchange of tax data to help you file an accurate FAFSA form; and
  • eliminate
    any negative consequences related to questions about drug convictions and
    Selective Service registration for federal student aid.

FSA is excited about these changes to create a better FAFSA form both
now and in the future!

To deliver on these new opportunities,
FSA first needs to update the technology system that the FAFSA form is built
on. Believe it or not, the current system is 45 years old, and though we have
made it work all these years, it’s just too limited to support these new

As you can see, we’re already hard
at work modernizing the FAFSA system. But we’re taking care to ensure you can
apply for and receive federal student aid at any point. That’s why we’re
breaking up this extensive work into bite-sized pieces. As early as Oct. 1 of
this year, some of these improvements will begin to show, and we will add more
improvements as soon as we can over time. With each step we take, we’ll always
ensure that you remain at the center of our focus.

Our mission is to help you pursue
your higher education dreams. And we pledge to keep you updated every step of
the way, so you know exactly what to expect from FSA.

Rich Cordray
Chief Operating Officer
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Federal Student Aid