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October 07, 2010 11:44 AM Passing the Buck on FAFSA

By Daniel Luzer

Maze1.jpg

It’s apparently still just too damn difficult for Americans to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, the document that college students fill out in order to determine eligibility for student aid.

The secretary of education, Arne Duncan, recently complained about FAFSA during a teleconference with student journalists. According to an article by Robert Guttersohn in the (Wayne State University) South End:

[Duncan] was joined by Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, and Jason Rzepka, vice president of MTV public affairs.
The teleconference was to promote the “Get Schooled College Affordability Challenge,” which offers $10,000 for any college student that can come up with a better way to navigate through FAFSA’s “maze” of a website, as Duncan referred to it.

The FAFSA is confusing and probably does prevent eligible families from accessing aid for which they qualify. Despite recent improvements, potential college students still have to answer at least 130 questions in order to determine eligibility.

But note to Arne Duncan: you are the U.S. secretary of education. FAFSA is issued by the Department of Education. It’s your form. If you want to fix FAFSA, it’s your job.

There’s no good reason to run some contest to try and get college students to fix FAFSA. Just take responsibility and figure it out. The department got the country into this “maze”; the department should take it out. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer