My Student Aid, a new app being launched by the Department of Education, should help students fill out the FAFSA.
The Department of Education will launch the beta version of a new app called My Student Aid on Aug. 15, which will finally allow borrowers to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) through their mobile phones. The department expects the app to be fully functional by Oct. 1.
This is part of the Department of Education’s promise to simplify the student loan process for students and families.
Students who fail to fill out a FAFSA could miss out on potential grant money and low-interest student loans. Last year, 60 percent of high school seniors filled out a FAFSA, while 70 percent attended college. The department is hoping that simplifying the FAFSA will encourage more students to actually fill one out, CNN reported.
The department has bigger plans for the My Student Aid app. At some point, borrowers will be able to accept or decline loan offers, check their balances, and more. And the department hopes to add a component that will show students how much money they will owe after graduation.
The app isn’t the only change the department is making; the FAFSA website has also been updated so it will be mobile-friendly. And both the website and the app incorporate “skip logic” which is a feature that automatically changes what question a respondent sees based on their previous answers.
Over the years, lawmakers have continued to take steps to make the FAFSA easier to fill out. For instance, families can now reference their previous year’s tax returns. And the online form will automatically import data from their tax returns onto the FAFSA. This can help minimize errors and save time during the submission process.
The number of mobile users continues to increase every year, especially for college-aged students. So allowing borrowers to access the FAFSA through their mobile devices could help incentivize more students to sign up. However, the app does nothing to address the length of the application, which is the biggest hurdle for many students.
The FAFSA is over 100 questions long and requires detailed financial information from families and students to fill out. Accessing the FAFSA from a mobile phone can be more convenient but ultimately the Department of Education will need to work with Congress to make more serious, long-term changes to the application itself, according to CNN.