Sen. Lamar Alexander quotes Executive Director Kristina Scott while introducing FAFSA Simplification Act of 2019 co-sponsored by Sen. Doug Jones

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) Tuesday introduced the FAFSA Simplification Act of 2019, which would streamline the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and give students and families early information about Pell Grant eligibility.

Alabama Possible joins with partners from the National College Access Network (NCAN) and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators in its support of this bill. Alabama Possible is an NCAN member.

During his floor speech, Sen. Alexander quoted Alabama Possible’s Executive Director Kristina Scott, who said “One of the biggest reasons students and families don’t complete the FAFSA is that they don’t think they will be eligible for any financial aid. This is true even for Pell-eligible families. With the FAFSA Simplification Act’s implementation of simple, clear Pell Grant look-up tables, we will be able to talk with students beginning in middle school about aid for which they should be eligible and how to access it by completing a shorter, simplified FAFSA. These two changes can shift the conversation about postsecondary education from ‘if’ to ‘when’ for low-income and first-generation college-going students and their families.”

Some of the improvements in the FAFSA Simplification Act of 2019 include:

  • Students from non-tax-filing families would be able to confirm their status within the FAFSA, eliminating the need for them to answer financial questions.
  • Middle-income families would not be required to answer asset questions unless their adjusted gross income is over $75,000 or they filed certain lettered tax schedules.
  • High-income families would also answer fewer questions, with nearly all financial questions transferring from the IRS.
  • Barrier questions such as past drug convictions and selective service registration, would be eliminated.
  • The Expected Family Contribution will be replaced with a new calculation, the Student Aid Index, while maintaining the FAFSA’s universality.
  • Creates Pell Grant look-up tables in the form of consumer-tested electronic tools. The new ability to create these tools derives from a switch in the Pell Grant eligibility formula, which would now be based solely on adjusted gross income and family size, rather than the longer needs analysis formula currently used.

“NCAN has long advocated for a streamlined FAFSA to lessen one of the barriers faced by many first-generation students going to college. By combining this simpler FAFSA with a Pell Grant look-up table, we can show students, early in their decision-making process, that there is money to help them complete college,” said NCAN Executive Director Kim Cook. “We thank Senators Alexander and Jones for championing this issue and the students we serve and are pleased to support this bill.”