[Federal Register Volume 62, Number 83 (Wednesday, April 30, 1997)]
[Pages 23436-23437]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 97-11270]



Notice of Public Meetings on Improving the Free Application for 
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

AGENCY: United States Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of public meetings.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Education will convene three public 
meetings to receive comments on its plan to make the Free Application 
for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) easier to complete by reducing the 
overall number of questions on the form, reducing the number of 
questions that certain families must complete, and simplifying the way 
those questions are asked. The Department plans to use the revised 
FAFSA starting with the 1999-2000 award year. The FAFSA is completed by 
students and their families, and the information submitted

[[Page 23437]]

on the FAFSA is used to determine the students' eligibility and 
financial need for the student financial assistance programs authorized 
under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, (Title 
IV, HEA Programs).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jerry Whitlock, by fax at (202) 708-
7970 or electronically at [email protected].



    Under section 483 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended 
(HEA), the Secretary is charged, ``in cooperation with agencies and 
organizations involved in providing student financial assistance,'' to 
``produce, distribute and process free of charge a common financial 
reporting form to be used to determine the need and eligibility of a 
student under'' the Title IV, HEA Programs. This form is the FAFSA. In 
addition, section 483 authorizes the Secretary to include on the FAFSA 
up to eight non-financial data items that would assist States in 
awarding State student financial assistance.
    Over the past several years, the Secretary, in cooperation with the 
above described agencies and organizations, has added questions to the 
form. Those questions were added to accommodate the needs of States 
that administer State student aid programs, and of institutions of 
higher education that administer the Title IV, HEA Programs. They were 
also added to facilitate eliminating or reducing the number of State 
and institutional forms that a student and his or her family must 
complete in order to receive student financial assistance.
    On the other hand, section 478 of the HEA recognized that it was 
not necessary for certain types of students to complete all the income 
and asset questions on the FAFSA to have their expected family 
contributions (EFC) calculated. Thus, under that section, students 
whose family income is $12,000 or less and were not required to file an 
IRS Tax Form 1040 are deemed to have a zero EFC. Consequently, these 
students should have to answer only a limited number of questions on 
the FAFSA. Moreover, under that section, students whose family income 
is less than $50,000 and were not required to file an IRS Tax Form 1040 
do not have to report asset information.
    In the context of re-engineering the FAFSA and looking at each 
FAFSA question anew, it appears that a great many of the questions now 
on the form are not needed to determine a student's need and 
eligibility for Title IV, HEA Program funds. For example, using the 
1996-97 and 1997-98 FAFSAs as reference points, a student does not need 
to complete the following questions in order to have his or her 
eligibility and need for Title IV, HEA Program funds determined: 11-14, 
18, 20-39, 50, 53-54, 65-66, and 92-105.
    Moreover, it appears that many of these questions are of a marginal 
value, even for State and institutional purposes, and it further 
appears that the FAFSA does not fully accommodate those students who 
did not have to fully answer all the questions on the form. Finally, 
the Department has found that many individuals who complete the form 
find it difficult to understand and confusing and burdensome to 
    To assist in reconciling potential conflicting purposes of forms 
reduction, form simplification, and burden reduction, the Department 
would appreciate receiving comments that address the following issues:
     To what extent should the FAFSA be viewed as the vehicle 
to collect information over and above the information needed to 
determine a student's eligibility and financial need for Title IV, HEA 
Program funds?
     To what extent should the FAFSA be used to accommodate the 
additional information needs of States and institutions of higher 
     What guidelines should the Department use when adding or 
deleting data elements on the FAFSA? How should the need for data be 
balanced against the complexity and burden that may result from 
collecting additional information?
     How much of the current difficulty in completing the FAFSA 
results from the design/format of the FAFSA, the number of questions, 
the way the questions are asked, and the length or phrasing of the 
    The dates and locations of the three public meetings at which these 
issues will be discussed appear below. Each is scheduled from 10 a.m. 
to 1 p.m. Individuals who wish to make oral statements should be 
prepared to limit their remarks to five minutes if the number of 
speakers will not allow longer presentations. The Department encourages 
all participants to submit written statements.

Dates, Locations, and Contact Persons for the Public Meetings

Meeting One

    Date: Friday, May 2, 1997.
    Address: John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Room 200, 899--10th 
Avenue, New York, New York, 10019.
    For Further Information Contact: George Chin or Phil Friedman at 
(212) 290-5700.

Meeting Two

    Date: Monday, May 12, 1997.
    Address: Manchester Conference Center, Room 206A, University of San 
Diego, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, California.
    For Further Information Contact: Sister Dale Brown at (619) 260-

Meeting Three

    Date: Friday, June 6, 1997.
    Address: J.C. Penney Building, Room 101, University for Missouri-
St. Louis, 8001 Natural Bridge Road, St. Louis, Missouri.
    For Further Information Contact: Jerry Joseph at (314) 516-6397.
    Any person who is unable to attend any meeting but wishes to submit 
written comments on the FAFSA may do so by sending those comments to: 
Patrick Sherrill, Information Management Team, U.S. Department of 
Education, 600 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C., 20202-4651. You 
may fax your written comments on the FAFSA to Mr. Sherrill at (202) 
708-9346 or send them electronically to [email protected].
David A. Longanecker,
Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.
[FR Doc. 97-11270 Filed 4-29-97; 8:45 am]