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senate Bill S. 3611

Should the IRS & Dept. of Education Share Info to Simplify FAFSA Applications?

Argument in favor

Streamlining the FAFSA application process allows more students and their families to apply for financial aid. This makes college more accessible and increases the probability that students will enroll, and stay, in school.

Jon's Opinion
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12/16/2018
Yes, but we wouldn't need student loans if school was affordable. Do THAT instead.
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Alec's Opinion
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12/16/2018
I'm all for simplifying. Here's an idea-- why not make education cheap(er), or hell, even free education like Europe's, and negate the federal government from having to give individuals money-- they can just pay it themselves, or just go since the schools will have already been subsidised.
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12/16/2018
A resounding yes. They are confusing, take too long and ask for way too much personal info. This change is much needed to help student loan and grant recipients informed on what info is being taken and also what the terms of their loans etc are.
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Argument opposed

Simplifying the FAFSA application process means forgoing some information about applicants’ financial resources, which could cause some to receive financial aid money that they’re ineligible for, raising the cost of funding federal financial aid.

John's Opinion
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12/16/2018
This seems too open to abuse. Make college/trade schools affordable.
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JTJ's Opinion
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12/16/2018
Using taxpayer funds to guarantee student loans, and allowing liberal academics to jack up the price of tuition, is a monumental abuse of the taxpayers. Get the government out of the student loan business and you will see tuition come down to affordable levels.
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Jerry's Opinion
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12/16/2018
The more people you allow to see IRA information, the greater the increase in identity theft. I've had that happen to me and it is not pleasant.
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What is Senate Bill S. 3611?

This bill — the Faster Access to Federal Student Aid Act (FAFSA) Act of 2018 — would simply the student loan application, income verification, and student loan repayment processes by allowing data-sharing between the Dept. of Education and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to improve the federal student aid system for students and borrowers. It’d amend the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to allow the IRS to disclose tax return information to authorized Dept. of Education officials for the purposes of “determining eligibility for, and amount of, Federal student financial aid.

This bill would also take steps to reduce verification burden, which is the financial aid equivalent of an audit — a process which currently is a time-consuming ordeal for both students and financial aid offices.

Impact

High school seniors; college applicants; FAFSA applicants; Internal Revenue Service; Department of Education; Internal Revenue Code; and the Higher Education Act.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 3611

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced this bill to make it easier for students and their families to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA):

“Nearly 20 million students fill out the FAFSA every year and we have heard over and over that the 108-question form is difficult to complete and its complexity discourages students from applying. There is a consensus on how to make it easier for these students to apply for federal aid… Over and over again… I have been asked, if I have already given my tax information to the federal government, why do I have to give it again for the FAFSA? My answer is that you shouldn’t have to. Once is enough. My central focus will be to make it simpler and easier for students to apply for federal aid and to pay their loans back and easier for college administrators to cut through the jungle of bureaucratic red tape.”

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) supports this bill. Its president, Justin Draeger, calls this bill a “common-sense” solution that benefits students and families:

“The FAFSA Act not only makes the application process easier for students, but does so while preserving the integrity of the student aid programs. These are the sort of common-sense, bipartisan solutions students and families need from Washington, D.C., and we applaud these Senators for their commitment to removing barriers to a postsecondary education. The financial aid community urges swift action on this bill so that work can begin to reduce the application and data verification burden that continues to overwhelm students and institutions."

NASFAA adds that this bill improves data-sharing securing, reduces applicant errors, and reduces improper payments:

“In addition to providing a more streamlined, less burdensome process for students and families, the bill would create a more secure data-sharing experience, reduce applicant errors in reported income, and reduce improper payments. The bill also aims to improve cost estimates and forecasting of the federal student aid programs by including research, oversight and analysis as an allowable use of shared IRS information.”

While it hasn’t taken a position on this specific bill, Young Invincibles supports FAFSA simplification as a way to make the financial aid process easier and less daunting:

“[R]educing student debt levels can start with merely simplifying the financial aid application system. Many students who otherwise would be eligible, never receive aid. The During the 2011-2012 school year, 17 percent of Pell-eligible African-Americans and 10 percent of Pell-eligible Latinx individuals did not fill out the FAFSA because they thought they were ineligible for aid. A prime suspect is the complex process. The current FAFSA has over 100 questions and requires significant financial information from a student’s family, making filling it out highly confusing. That confusion leads to about a quarter of online forms being abandoned, and students missing out on billions of dollars in aid. There has been some progress toward improving the experience by the Department of Education: last year 23 business and student groups wrote the committee urging the codification of the usage of prior-prior year tax information, the IRS’ data retrieval tool, and the expanded application period. [Congress] should adopt those recommendations and move forward on further simplification reforms like letting low-income families only file the FAFSA once, or not have to file if they are means-tested program recipients, and creating a shorter, quicker pathways for all other applicants.”

This bill has the support of three cosponsors, including two Democrats and one Republican. It also has the support of the National College Access Network, in addition to the organizations quoted above.


Of NoteResearch shows that students who file a Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) are 72 percent more likely than non-FAFSA filers to enroll, and stay, in college. However, according to federal education statistics, over half of high school seniors don’t fill out a FAFSA by the time they graduate. Of the students that don’t file FAFSA, many come from lower-income families, and would’ve qualified for Pell Grants that don’t have to be repaid.

Currently, the IRC doesn’t allow the IRS to share taxpayer data with the Education Department. Instead, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) works around this lack of data-sharing authority by having FAFSA applicants obtain their own tax information from the IRS, and then import that information into the FAFSA.

Under this bill, information would come directly from the IRS. This would reduce verification burden, since applicants who currently fall into categories that are ineligible to use the DRT would be eligible to have their tax data shared directed between the IRS and Education Department. This bill should also largely do away with the verification of non-filing requirement (VONF), since it includes filing status as one of the shared IRS information elements.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / designer491)

AKA

Faster Access to Federal Student Aid Act of 2018

Official Title

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and the Higher Education Act of 1965 to facilitate the disclosure of tax return information to carry out the Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
    IntroducedNovember 13th, 2018
    Yes, but we wouldn't need student loans if school was affordable. Do THAT instead.
    Like (120)
    Follow
    Share
    This seems too open to abuse. Make college/trade schools affordable.
    Like (81)
    Follow
    Share
    I'm all for simplifying. Here's an idea-- why not make education cheap(er), or hell, even free education like Europe's, and negate the federal government from having to give individuals money-- they can just pay it themselves, or just go since the schools will have already been subsidised.
    Like (38)
    Follow
    Share
    Using taxpayer funds to guarantee student loans, and allowing liberal academics to jack up the price of tuition, is a monumental abuse of the taxpayers. Get the government out of the student loan business and you will see tuition come down to affordable levels.
    Like (28)
    Follow
    Share
    The more people you allow to see IRA information, the greater the increase in identity theft. I've had that happen to me and it is not pleasant.
    Like (25)
    Follow
    Share
    A resounding yes. They are confusing, take too long and ask for way too much personal info. This change is much needed to help student loan and grant recipients informed on what info is being taken and also what the terms of their loans etc are.
    Like (17)
    Follow
    Share
    Although the convenience is exciting, this is just a little too “big brother” for me. I think over time the FAFSA application might require you to provide a blood sample as well. I paid back 240K in student loans. They’ve already sucked enough of my blood. No thanks.
    Like (17)
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    No, too much room for abuse. Additionally, I see no reason in making it that much easier to apply for a loan that many have difficulties paying back. Here's an idea - why not make public colleges more affordable instead of simply making it easier to borrow tens of thousands of dollars?
    Like (16)
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    Make applying for financial aid easier. Next write and pass legislation that makes college free. An educated society is good for the economy and a democracy.
    Like (13)
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    We need to make education affordable for ALL. This NEEDS to be OUR GOAL!!!
    Like (13)
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    Let's move all college loans to a private company. Federal Student Loans are not found In the Constitution.
    Like (12)
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    FASFA is unconstitutional. There is no provision directing the Gov’t to supply funding for students to go to college. Return our nation to its original Constitutional roots. Big Gov’t is enslaving the citizens of this nation. This must stop!
    Like (7)
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    We need to stop illegals, free loaders and the Democrat Socialist party from cheating. Support this common sense bill. Then stop encouraging the lie that college is for everyone as it is mostly a waste of money to learn a trade that barely covers the cost.
    Like (7)
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    High school graduation not enough in this world now. I think we should support at least for every student 2 years of college like we support our schools.
    Like (6)
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    Make college affordable. On a side note- Once the IRS starts sharing everyone will have everyone else’s social security number and identity theft will become impossible to control.
    Like (6)
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    It would be nice but the trumplicans are anti education. They are doing their best to make college unaffordable for all but the wealthy. They know if we get educated we won’t be trumplicans.
    Like (6)
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    Shut down the IRS time for flat tax, shut down government education all it is is indoctrination for socialism. SMALL GOVERNMENT DISMANTLE THE BUREAUCRACY.
    Like (4)
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    We would be better served by making college much more affordable.
    Like (4)
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    The government invades our privacy, oddly enough it’s the republicans that have been the worst ever since Nixon was in office, trump is the worst.
    Like (3)
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    S.3611 - Faster Access to Federal Student Aid Act I’m in support of and recommend the passage of Senate bill 3611 AKA Faster Access to Federal Student Aid Act which would Streamline the FAFSA application process thus allows more students and their families to apply for financial aid. This makes college more accessible and increases the probability that students will enroll, and stay, in school. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👍🏻🏫👍🏻👍🏻. 12*15*18....;
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