Publication Date: Septemeber 2005
2006-2007 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet and Paper FAFSA Distribution Plan
Subject: 2006-2007 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet and Paper FAFSA Distribution Plan
Background and Context
As you probably know, the number of FAFSAs filed electronically has increased dramatically. Currently, more than 80 percent of all FAFSAs are filed online using FAFSA on the Web and only about 12 percent are filed using paper FAFSAs. The remainder are submitted using FAA Access and other electronic media. This means that while we print and distribute more than 23 million paper FAFSAs, fewer than two million paper applications are actually submitted for processing.
Our research, including conversations with financial aid administrators, tells us that many applicants obtain one or more paper FAFSAs to use in preparation for completing the FAFSA on the Web application. We agree that it makes sense that students have their answers ready before going to the online application. However, because of “skip logic” and other features of the Web application, the order of the questions on the paper FAFSA is not the same as the order of the questions on FAFSA on the Web. This makes it difficult for applicants to complete the online application using a paper FAFSA. Because of this, we introduced the Pre-Application Worksheet in 1999-2000 to provide Web filers with a preparation tool better suited to their needs than the paper FAFSA. We made the Pre-Application Worksheet available to students and to schools by posting it in PDF format to several of our Web sites, including www.fafsa.ed.gov.
The Improved FAFSA on the Web Worksheet
Over the past year, we listened to feedback from students, parents, and financial aid administrators to help us learn how we could improve the Worksheet. Among other things, we learned that schools were not printing and distributing the Worksheet because of the time and expense involved. We also discovered that schools needed the form earlier in preparation for the beginning of processing in January of each year. Finally, we learned that many students do not use the Worksheet because it does not look like an official U.S. Department of Education document and that its layout is not user-friendly.
We used that feedback to address student and school concerns in our design of the Worksheet for 2006-2007. First, we renamed it the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet to more accurately describe its purpose. We also put the U.S. Department of Education seal in a prominent place on the form and we addressed formatting issues by creating a cleaner layout with instructions throughout the form. Finally, while it will still be available for download from the Web, we plan to print and distribute the 2006-2007 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet early so that postsecondary schools, high schools, libraries, and community agencies can have bulk quantities of the Worksheet available for students and families.
(See the discussion below for details on the distribution plan.)
As enthusiastic promoters of FAFSA on the Web, we now ask your help in promoting the use of the Worksheet, which will benefit both you and your students because it is the best tool for gathering the information needed to complete the Web application. It also will be available earlier than the paper FAFSA and can be distributed as a part of schools’ outreach and admission efforts. Most importantly, the Worksheet, used in conjunction with the improved FAFSA on the Web help text, will create an enhanced application experience for students.
It is important to understand that the 2006-2007 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet is not an official FAFSA, and there is no requirement that it be used before completing the FAFSA on the Web application. It is an optional tool that students and families can choose to use before going to the Web site. Also, schools may develop and distribute their own worksheets if they feel a different format better meets the needs of their students.
It is also very important to note that the Worksheet cannot be submitted to the Department for processing since it does not have all of the information needed to establish eligibility nor does it include the required certifications and signatures. For the same reasons, the Worksheet cannot be submitted to a school for the purpose of using FAA Access. Submission of applications using FAA Access still requires that schools collect and retain a signed paper FAFSA.
2006-2007 Printing and Distribution Plan
Within the next few days, schools will receive in the mail a paper sample of the 2006-2007FAFSA on the Web Worksheet. Schools can also view a draft of the Worksheet on the Web at . As you view the online draft, please keep in mind that the actual Worksheet is formatted as a booklet, rather than eight separate pages.
In the past, we automatically mailed supplies of paper FAFSAs to high schools, libraries, and to community agencies. Postsecondary schools ordered FAFSAs in early autumn using our Bulk Publication Ordering System (BPOS) at www.edpubs.org/bpos. Then when the paper FAFSAs became available in November, they were shipped to schools based on their BPOS orders. For the 2006-2007 processing year, we will implement a new strategy for the printing, ordering, and distribution of the 2006-2007 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet and the 2006-2007 paper FAFSA.
The new process will be as follows:
· Early September – We will mail a sample 2006-2007 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet to postsecondary schools, high schools, libraries, and community agencies.
· Mid September – Postsecondary schools, high schools, libraries, and community agencies may begin to submit orders at BPOS for additional copies of the Worksheet, beyond the amounts that will be automatically shipped as described in the next bullet. BPOS will fulfill such orders as soon as possible after the automatic distribution of the Worksheet.
Early October – We will automatically ship a supply of 2006-2007 FAFSA on the Web Worksheets to all postsecondary schools, high schools, libraries, and community agencies. For postsecondary schools, this first distribution of Worksheets will be in a quantity of approximately 60 percent of the school’s initial 2005-2006 order for paper FAFSAs. High schools, libraries, and community agencies will receive a limited number of the Worksheets.
· As noted above, additional Worksheets may be ordered from BPOS as early as mid September and throughout the processing year.
· The 2006-2007 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet will also be available in PDF format on FAFSA on the Web, Student Aid on the Web, and Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) web sites. Students can print the Worksheet and use it to prepare for completing and submitting an application using FAFSA on the Web.
· Students and families may request single copies of the Worksheet by phone at 1-800-4-FED-AID.
Early November – We will automatically ship a supply of 2006-2007 paper FAFSAs to all postsecondary schools, high schools, libraries, and community agencies. Since, as noted above, more than 80 percent of FAFSAs are now filed electronically and the Worksheet will be available earlier, we expect that the need for paper FAFSAs should be less. Therefore, for postsecondary schools, this first distribution of paper FAFSAs will be in a quantity of approximately 10 percent of the each school’s initial 2005-2006 order for paper FAFSAs. High schools, libraries, and community agencies will automatically receive a limited number of paper FAFSAs.
· Mid November – We understand that some schools, especially those that accept signed paper FAFSAs from their students for submission using FAA Access, may need additional paper FAFSAs. Therefore, if needed, postsecondary schools, high schools, libraries, and community agencies may begin to submit orders to BPOS for additional paper FAFSAs.
· Students and families may request single copies of the paper FAFSA by phone at 1-800-4-FED-AID.
The improved 2006-2007 FAFSA on the Web Worksheetprovides a timely and appropriate tool for the vast majority of students and families who will be completing a FAFSA on the Web application. The new distribution strategy recognizes the continuing shift from paper applications to Web applications and the subsequent limited need for paper FAFSAs at most schools. However, the strategy includes the option for schools to order additional supplies of either document in order to meet the needs of their students–Web filers and paper filers.
Again, we acknowledge and thank you for your support and promotion of electronic filing of student aid applications. If you have any questions or comments about the information provided in this letter, please email us at .
Student Aid Awareness and Applicant Services Channel
Federal Student Aid
U.S. Department of Education