Georgia college students could soon be able to apply for federal student financial aid through an app on their phone. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says the existing system needs a reboot. DeVos made the announcement at a conference of student aid professionals in Orlando.
"We’re in the process of moving toward updating the whole FAFSA experience and making it 21st century relevant,” DeVos said.
This afternoon, she was in Atlanta for a roundtable discussion with students from Georgia State University. She wanted to learn more about GSU students’ experience with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
Georgia State senior Donté Brown told DeVos the FAFSA was hard to do as a first-generation college student.
"I couldn't even ask my parents for help in how to figure out FAFSA because they have no idea. Especially when it comes to putting in the IRS information," Brown said.
Many people think the application is confusing and intimidating — especially for families that aren’t familiar with complicated tax information.
Without FAFSA, students can’t apply for grants and loans to help pay for school.
Almost all of the GSU students who met with DeVos at the roundtable said they would have loved to have a mobile app to help them apply for federal aid.
They said that currently there are several complex steps to the process, and for kids who are barely 18 and have never filed taxes, it can be overwhelming.
One student said her desk was completely covered in tax forms for months as her family tried to figure out what line went where on what site. Though they all came from diverse educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, all of them said applying for aid shouldn’t be as hard as it is.
At the conference this morning in Orlando, DeVos said we use our phones for everything from ordering food to finding a soulmate, so applying for financial aid should be just as easy. DeVos said the FAFSA app should be ready in the spring.