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The U.S. Department of Education will convene three public meetings to receive comments on its plan to make the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) easier to complete by reducing the overall number of questions on the form, reducing the numb

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PublicationDate: 4/30/97
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PageNumbers: 23436-23437
Summary: The U.S. Department of Education will convene three public meetings to receive comments on its plan to make the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) easier to complete by reducing the overall number of questions on the form, reducing the number of questions that certain families must complete, and simplifying the way those questions are asked. The Department plans to use the revised FAFSA starting with the 1999-2000 award year. The FAFSA is completed by students and their families, and the information submitted on the FAFSA is used to determine the students' eligibility and financial need for the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, (Title IV, HEA Programs).
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[Federal Register: April 30, 1997 (Volume 62, Number 83)]
[Notices]
[Page 23436-23437]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr30ap97-65]

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION


Notice of Public Meetings on Improving the Free Application for
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

AGENCY: United States Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of public meetings.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Education will convene three public
meetings to receive comments on its plan to make the Free Application
for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) easier to complete by reducing the
overall number of questions on the form, reducing the number of
questions that certain families must complete, and simplifying the way
those questions are asked. The Department plans to use the revised
FAFSA starting with the 1999-2000 award year. The FAFSA is completed by
students and their families, and the information submitted

[[Page 23437]]

on the FAFSA is used to determine the students' eligibility and
financial need for the student financial assistance programs authorized
under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, (Title
IV, HEA Programs).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jerry Whitlock, by fax at (202) 708-
7970 or electronically at jerry__ whitlock@ed.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

Under section 483 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended
(HEA), the Secretary is charged, ``in cooperation with agencies and
organizations involved in providing student financial assistance,'' to
``produce, distribute and process free of charge a common financial
reporting form to be used to determine the need and eligibility of a
student under'' the Title IV, HEA Programs. This form is the FAFSA. In
addition, section 483 authorizes the Secretary to include on the FAFSA
up to eight non-financial data items that would assist States in
awarding State student financial assistance.
Over the past several years, the Secretary, in cooperation with the
above described agencies and organizations, has added questions to the
form. Those questions were added to accommodate the needs of States
that administer State student aid programs, and of institutions of
higher education that administer the Title IV, HEA Programs. They were
also added to facilitate eliminating or reducing the number of State
and institutional forms that a student and his or her family must
complete in order to receive student financial assistance.
On the other hand, section 478 of the HEA recognized that it was
not necessary for certain types of students to complete all the income
and asset questions on the FAFSA to have their expected family
contributions (EFC) calculated. Thus, under that section, students
whose family income is $12,000 or less and were not required to file an
IRS Tax Form 1040 are deemed to have a zero EFC. Consequently, these
students should have to answer only a limited number of questions on
the FAFSA. Moreover, under that section, students whose family income
is less than $50,000 and were not required to file an IRS Tax Form 1040
do not have to report asset information.
In the context of re-engineering the FAFSA and looking at each
FAFSA question anew, it appears that a great many of the questions now
on the form are not needed to determine a student's need and
eligibility for Title IV, HEA Program funds. For example, using the
1996-97 and 1997-98 FAFSAs as reference points, a student does not need
to complete the following questions in order to have his or her
eligibility and need for Title IV, HEA Program funds determined: 11-14,
18, 20-39, 50, 53-54, 65-66, and 92-105.
Moreover, it appears that many of these questions are of a marginal
value, even for State and institutional purposes, and it further
appears that the FAFSA does not fully accommodate those students who
did not have to fully answer all the questions on the form. Finally,
the Department has found that many individuals who complete the form
find it difficult to understand and confusing and burdensome to
complete.
To assist in reconciling potential conflicting purposes of forms
reduction, form simplification, and burden reduction, the Department
would appreciate receiving comments that address the following issues:
<bullet> To what extent should the FAFSA be viewed as the vehicle
to collect information over and above the information needed to
determine a student's eligibility and financial need for Title IV, HEA
Program funds?
<bullet> To what extent should the FAFSA be used to accommodate the
additional information needs of States and institutions of higher
education?
<bullet> What guidelines should the Department use when adding or
deleting data elements on the FAFSA? How should the need for data be
balanced against the complexity and burden that may result from
collecting additional information?
<bullet> How much of the current difficulty in completing the FAFSA
results from the design/format of the FAFSA, the number of questions,
the way the questions are asked, and the length or phrasing of the
instructions?
The dates and locations of the three public meetings at which these
issues will be discussed appear below. Each is scheduled from 10 a.m.
to 1 p.m. Individuals who wish to make oral statements should be
prepared to limit their remarks to five minutes if the number of
speakers will not allow longer presentations. The Department encourages
all participants to submit written statements.

Dates, Locations, and Contact Persons for the Public Meetings

Meeting One

Date: Friday, May 2, 1997.
Address: John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Room 200, 899--10th
Avenue, New York, New York, 10019.
For Further Information Contact: George Chin or Phil Friedman at
(212) 290-5700.

Meeting Two

Date: Monday, May 12, 1997.
Address: Manchester Conference Center, Room 206A, University of San
Diego, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, California.
For Further Information Contact: Sister Dale Brown at (619) 260-
2235.

Meeting Three

Date: Friday, June 6, 1997.
Address: J.C. Penney Building, Room 101, University for Missouri-
St. Louis, 8001 Natural Bridge Road, St. Louis, Missouri.
For Further Information Contact: Jerry Joseph at (314) 516-6397.
Any person who is unable to attend any meeting but wishes to submit
written comments on the FAFSA may do so by sending those comments to:
Patrick Sherrill, Information Management Team, U.S. Department of
Education, 600 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C., 20202-4651. You
may fax your written comments on the FAFSA to Mr. Sherrill at (202)
708-9346 or send them electronically to pat__ sherrill@ed.gov.
David A. Longanecker,
Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.
[FR Doc. 97-11270 Filed 4-29-97; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P




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Last Modified: 08/02/1998