New bipartisan effort simplifies college aid application process starting Dec. 31

College is more expensive than it’s ever been, but applying for aid is about to get easier.

News Center 7′s Samantha Manning explains what’s changing when it comes to filling out those financial aid forms.

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FAFSA, short for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is meant to help students find out what kind of money they could get to pay for college.

For years it’s been a complicated process, but when enrollment opens this year, education officials say it’ll be much simpler.

Financial aid is supposed to help students get to college.

“It’s been quite stressful,” FAFSA student Kimberly said.

Students told News Center 7′s Samantha Manning that filling out FAFSA forms can feel like it requires its own degree.

“My mom’s always talked about how once I get to high school,” Kimberly said. “She’s gonna have to figure out FAFSA with me again.”

“As a high school student, senior year, learning about FAFSA in general was such a daunting and like complicated experience,” a spokesperson from the National College Attainment Network said.

This year, that’s changing.

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Starting Dec. 31, students will be able to fill out a simplified FAFSA form.

“We saw that FAFSA the form itself was a barrier to students accessing the aid they needed to be able to afford college,” the spokesperson said.

These forms will have fewer questions and use direct data exchange, which means families won’t have to track down tax information.

Instead, they will be able to get permission from the IRS to automatically provide their information.

“They will mean fewer headaches over paperwork and more aid reaching more people,” United States Senator Patty Murray (WA-D) said.

These changes are the result of a bipartisan effort in Congress.

Murray said it also expands eligibility for those who qualify for aid.

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“We have to be opening the doors to higher education as wide as we can,” Murray said.

Every high school senior is encouraged to fill out a FAFSA.

It can provide Pell grants and other federal aid students might be aware they qualify for.

The Department of Education said the updated FAFSA form will be available online by Dec. 31.

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