Simplifying the Form
With the federal methodology came the creation of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which officially replaced the Common Financial Aid Form of 1986. The FAFSA became the only form for students to apply for federal financial aid. In 2006, the Commission on the Future of Higher Education proposed a number of recommendations for higher education, FAFSA simplification being one of them.
The 1992 HEA reauthorization created the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which replaced the Common Financial Aid Form of 1986. The FAFSA became the only federal form for students to apply for federal financial aid.
Creation of FAFSA on the web introduced skip logic—a tool that automatically skips questions not pertaining to the applicant—into FAFSA on the web.
The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance released a final report titled, “The Special Study of Simplification of Need Analysis and Application for Title IV Aid.” The report created a set of 10 recommendations, two of which were included in efforts to simplify financial aid in 2007 and 2008.
The Commission on the Future of Higher Education developed a series of recommendations for higher education around four central topics: access, cost and affordability, quality of learning and instruction, and accountability.
The College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) increased the income protection allowance, excluded untaxed income (e.g., social assistance benefits, Child Tax Credit) from financial aid determinations, and updated the simplified needs test by increasing the automatic zero EFC income threshold and authorizing financial aid administrators to consider certain work history and homelessness when determining adjustments to aid awards.
Ceased paper distribution of the FAFSA in the 2008-09 academic year.
Outgoing Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings wrote a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, encouraging Congress and the incoming Obama administration to develop a clearer and more relevant financial aid process.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Data Retrieval Tool, implemented by the U.S. Department of Education on the FAFSA, allowed some applicants to electronically transfer their tax information into the application.
An executive action allowed the use of prior-prior tax year information on the FAFSA.