It's now a whole lot easier to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA. Parents and students often dread completing the paperwork when sending a child to college, but new guidelines have streamlined the process.
Like most students, Augustana junior Hannah Drewes fills out the FAFSA forms ever year, and it's always a pain in the neck.
"You always have to get a bunch of information from pay stubs, from the bank, from all these other places. My dad's always on Web sites trying to figure out what they have money in," Drewes said.
Long forms, difficult questions and complicated formulas can be overwhelming but the federal government just rolled out a new FAFSA form, which promises to be much more user-friendly.
"If it could be easier, it would be much less stressful on me and my family. We're already looking at other sources to get more money," Drewes said.
A lot of other students find themselves in the same situation. National statistics show 1.5 million low-income families don't apply for FAFSA because the process is too hard.
But now, Augustana Director of Financial Aid Brenda Murtha says that's all changed. The worksheet that used to be eight pages long is now only four.
Much of the information has been condensed so it's easier to read, and even the online process is less confusing. The program uses "skip logic," so if something doesn't apply to you, it skips to the next section. And there's no longer any question about what parts are for parents and what parts are for students.
"When you're online, there's always a grid along the left side that shows the parent information and student information page you're on," Murtha said.
Murtha says the changes will only help people navigate FAFSA, so families can get all the financial aid they're eligible for.
On February 21, financial aid professionals will be available in communities across South Dakota to help parents fill out financial aid applications, in an event called College Goal Sunday.
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