NEW FAFSA Application

More on the NEW FAFSA Application, another REALLY good reason for you to attend the Regions PCCS meeting in your Area!

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Terry Hopkins

Sen. Lamar Alexander dangles a paper copy of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to emphasize its length. The application, which could be available as a mobile app as early as next spring, is also being scrutinized by the Senate education committee, of which Senator Alexander is the chairman.


From November 29, 2017 Orlando meeting: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos kicked off the day with the announcement that the department would create a mobile app for the Fafsa.

“There is no continuity of experience for borrowers,” she said during her keynote speech at the Federal Student Aid Training Conference for Financial Aid Professionals, in Orlando. “A student may begin the aid process through at least three different portals,” Ms. DeVos continued, “Then, if the student is eligible and a loan is secured, that same student will now be passed off to begin working with his or her school’s financial-aid office.”

Ms. DeVos said the app would be a more “consumer friendly” ecosystem for students, and meet them where they are. “The goal is a customer experience that will rival Amazon or Apple’s Genius Bar,” she said, “one that better serves students and taxpayers.”

An Education Department spokesman told The Chronicle that the department hopes to launch the app by next spring, and that the web version of the application would still be available to those who need it.

The announcement was met with excitement. “We’ve seen more and more people are using smartphones and just easy-to-use interfaces to get through their daily lives,” said Tariq Habash, a policy associate at the Century Foundation. “This is just another way to make the Fafsa more digestible for Americans in the 21st century.”

But the key to the app’s success will be in the details, several experts told The Chronicle, including its accessibility for non-English speakers, its launch on multiple platforms, and potential security concerns.

Ms. DeVos acknowledged the latter issue in her speech, remarking that the initiative included “enhancing cybersecurity to protect personal data.”

“This is a responsibility the department has neglected for too long,” she said. “We are making marked improvements because there are serious and ever-iterating threats.” Earlier this year, the department was forced to shut down a tool that makes it easier for students to fill out the Fafsa after it was compromised.

Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, commended the secretary for her awareness of the security issues but said he does not think they are a deal-breaker for the app. “There are concerns,” he said, “but those concerns are systemic with regard to anything you put on the internet.”

“You could argue that a mobile app could be more secure,” he continued. “But the department really needs to up its game with regard to security anyway.”

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