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Congressman Bobby Scott

Representing the 3rd District of Virginia

SIMPLIFYING THE APPLICATION FOR STUDENT AID ACT

July 11, 2016
Floor Statements

 Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5528, the Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act, and I encourage my fellow Members to support it as well.

   Under this bill, students and parents will be able to apply for financial aid when filling out college applications and will no longer have to wait until they have filed the current year's tax returns in order to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, form. Prior to this change, some families could not fill out the FAFSA form until they had filled out their taxes in April--or even later, with an extension--and, therefore, many students could not receive financial aid in a timely manner.

   In a 2013 report from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators report on using what is called using prior-prior year FAFSA data, they found that the expected family contribution of low-income students does not change much over time and concluded that the potential benefits of using prior-prior year data outweighed the potential cost. So last year, President Obama directed the Department of Education to switch to prior-prior year on the FAFSA form through executive action. Now, this bill will make that change permanent.

   Another important provision of the bill will require the Secretary to periodically report to Congress on the needs of limited English-proficient students. To make sure that a college education is within reach for all students, the Department should make the FAFSA form more accessible to students and families with limited English proficiency.

   Mr. Speaker, research has unfortunately shown us that too many students fail to attend college simply because of the complexity of the FAFSA form. This simplification will make it possible for them to fill out the form and to achieve their dream of achieving higher education.

   We know how important higher education is, and I am pleased that we could come together in a bipartisan fashion to make these important changes.

   I urge my colleagues to support this bill.