News: Federal Policy & Advocacy

NCAN Supports Legislation to Simplify FAFSA, Permanently Reauthorize MSI Funding

Thursday, December 5, 2019  
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By Carrie Warick, Director of Policy and Advocacy, and Ray AlQaisi, Policy and Advocacy Manager

The National College Access Network strongly endorses the Senate-passed amended version of the FUTURE Act (H.R. 2486), which supports NCAN’s students by achieving two of our policy priorities. The legislation permanently reauthorizes $255 million in annual mandatory funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions, and simplifies the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and income-driven student loan repayment process.

NCAN applauds the Senate for this action and urges the House of Representatives to fully support this measure.

“This bill would improve the financial aid application process for millions of current and future students, and create a foundation for further FAFSA simplification, which NCAN has long championed," said NCAN Executive Director Kim Cook. “While negotiations on a full reauthorization of the Higher Education Act continue, we encourage swift action on these commonsense solutions with bipartisan support."

The legislation would amend the Internal Revenue Code 6103 to allow for direct data sharing between the Departments of Treasury and Education and would allow all students, both non-tax-filers and tax filers of all filing statuses, to have their data transferred to Federal Student Aid (FSA). 20 million American families would experience a simpler FAFSA process, according to a press release from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

This change is particularly crucial to the FAFSA filers who are non-tax-filers and must go through an arduous process to confirm to FSA that they do not file taxes. About 7 million applicants are currently unable to access their IRS data for the FAFSA to verify that they do not file taxes, per the HELP Committee. These applicants must instead request separate documentation from the IRS.

This measure would also address the problem of verification melt. Nearly half of Pell Grant-eligible students are required to complete an audit-like process called verification to prove their FAFSA information is accurate. Twenty-five percent of these students do not end up receiving a Pell Grant because they are unable to complete verification. The new process created by this legislation would mean all FAFSA filers would have pre-verified income information, which should drastically decrease the burden of the verification process.

Additionally, this legislation would simplify the federal student loan repayment process. Nearly 8 million borrowers enrolled in income-driven repayment plans are required submit annual paperwork confirming income data they already share with the IRS. With this change, struggling borrowers will more easily enroll and remain in affordable repayment plans, and better avoid delinquency and default.

In short, this bipartisan action would make a world of difference for students and borrowers. NCAN commends the Senate for taking bipartisan action to make these needed changes and provide funding for crucial institutions. We hope the House of Representatives will consider and fully support this measure in the best interest of students.

 

You can visit our Action Center below to contact your Member of Congress about this proposal.

Lobbying: Please note that because this is a specific bill, it is considered lobbying. As a reminder, non-profits are allowed to lobby for specific legislation as long as it is a small portion of their time.

December 9, 2019: This post was updated with a link to our Action Center for those interested to contact their Member of Congress about this proposal.