Millions of college students cringe at the word “FAFSA”—-fun to say, not so fun to fill out. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid helps a large number of students pay for college…after they’ve spent hours answering questions, nagging their parents for tax info, and enduring an experience close to torture. But it looks like the financial aid future is getting a lot brighter. Starting today, the U.S. Department of Education debuts a new, less aggravating, shorter FAFSA. The basic changes include removing questions that apply to maybe 1% of students and rewording stupidly confusing items. The old application was 30 pages—the new one is a much healthier 10. And starting in January, the Department of Education is teaming up with the IRS so students can download their parent’s tax information directly to the FAFSA app. Hallelujah!
Oh, but there’s more good news. Many grads will be able to breathe a little easier come July 1, when the Income-Based Repayment Program takes affect. This new program will be great for folks not making a ton of money once they graduate—it caps the student loan payments at 15% of their adjusted gross income. And if you happen to go into a public service field, after ten years making these payments, your student loan debt will be completely erased. The Department of Education warns that some people could end up paying back more than originally necessary thanks to interest, but this is still good news in an economic environment where, last month, more than 15% of folks in their 20s were still unemployed. [CNN]
Hopefully both of these new measures will lessen financial worries for families and encourage more young people to apply to college. And not just for the keggers.