Washington — It may not be a postcard, but it’s going to be a lot smaller.
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced this evening, as part of an address at Harvard University, that she had been able to whittle the main federal financial-aid application, known as the Fafsa, from 120 questions in six pages down to just 27 questions.
Ms. Spellings, in her speech at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard, said the change was part of her efforts to reduce the barriers preventing or deterring students from going to college.
“It’s red tape like this that keeps 40 percent of college students from even applying for federal aid,” the secretary said, according to a copy of her prepared remarks. “That’s nearly eight million students. And we believe most would have been eligible for assistance.”
The undersecretary in charge of higher education, Sara Martinez Tucker, told an Education Department conference in July that she hoped to cut the form down to just nine questions. And a Harvard researcher, Susan Dynarski, had proposed making the form small enough to fit on a postcard.
Such changes also have been urged by Congress, which included provisions in the Higher Education Opportunity Act, enacted in August, that urged the secretary to reduce the number of questions on the Fafsa, and to work with the Internal Revenue Service to further simplify the process by automatically sharing data provided by students and their families on tax forms. —Paul Basken