With people relying increasingly on their phones to do the majority of their business, the Department of Education has unveiled an app for filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly called the FAFSA. A beta version of the app is up and running, and the whole site is expected to be operating by Oct. 1.
More About the App
The app, myStudentAid, can be used by students who are seeking financial aid for the 2019-2020 school year.
The app might take some of the intimidation out of filling out the FAFSA, which has earned a reputation over the years for being difficult to understand and fill out, partially because of how long-winded it is.
“Usually, the only thing families have heard about the FAFSA is that it’s really hard,” Jacqueline Moreno, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission’s managing director of college access initiatives, told CNN.
But lawmakers have recently asked for changes that will make the form easier to fill out.
Why This App is Important
The FAFSA can save a lot of money for prospective students, but some opt to not fill out the form because of how complicated they feel it is. Or they mistakenly think they won’t receive any financial aid.
Military families and students in a lower-income bracket might qualify for grants instead of loans. Grants are free money they won’t have to pay off later. Almost every student will have access to student loans if they want or need them.
The point of introducing this app is to encourage more people to apply for FAFSA funds.
“We are hopeful the mobile app will drive up the completion rate,” A. Wayne Johnson, Federal Student Aid head of strategy and transformation, told CNN.
By skipping the FAFSA, students have access to less money that could help them fund their college education. Only about 60 percent of the prior year’s graduating senior class filled out the FAFSA for the 2017-2018 school year, while 70 percent of the class signed up for college.
The Features of the App
The app uses “skip logic,” which weeds out questions that don’t pertain to specific parents or students who are filling out the form. That time saver cuts down on the busy work filers have to contend with.
In addition, the online form can move an applicant’s tax return to the FAFSA. That cuts down on the information the parents or applicant will need to look up and input. The mobile app includes a lot of the same features as the website does. The biggest benefit the Department of Education foresees with the mobile app will be for the applicants who mainly use a smartphone for their internet access.
The app may expand in the future to include more features, such as an option so students can view their account balances, decide whether to agree to a loan or turn it down, and weigh the costs of attending particular colleges and the graduation rates those colleges have.
Author: Shannon Serpette
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