One and Done? Bill Would Allow One-Time FAFSA Filing

July 15, 2016

By Kim Cook, Executive Director 

The push toward FAFSA simplification was built upon today with a proposal to allow dependent, Pell Grant-eligible students to file the FAFSA a first time and then maintain financial eligibility for subsequent years without annual FAFSA renewal. NCAN supports the legislation and its members applaud this move to reduce burdensome filing requirements for our lowest-income college students. 

Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-03), who knows well the work of NCAN member programs like his district’s own Access College Foundation, introduced H.R. 5784, the File Once FAFSA Act of 2016, saying, “Simplifying the FAFSA removes unnecessary obstacles that can deter first-time and non-traditional students. The File Once FAFSA Act will simplify the financial aid process for dependent Pell recipients and help more of these students obtain aid to complete college degrees.”  

Research suggests that the complexity of the application process prevents many students from obtaining aid — one in 10 Pell Grant recipients who re-enroll the following year do not refile a FAFSA. One particularly onerous part of refiling for dependent Pell Grant recipients is the requirement to annually provide their own and their parents’ financial information. While financial information is useful when determining Pell eligibility initially, due to the consistency of Pell Grant awards for dependent students who re-enroll, this information is unnecessary to collect year after year, a legislative fact sheet notes.  

The bill was announced at this week’s National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) conference and has the support of NCAN and NASFAA as well as the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), The Education Trust, Generation Progress, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP), The Institute For College Access and Success (TICAS), Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and Young Invincibles.  

NCAN will follow the progress of #fileonce closely and keep members posted as we work together to simplify FAFSA and fulfill our shared missions of college completion.

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