The most significant overhaul yet to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is coming this December when the US Education Department plans to release its new simplified form.
Reducing the application from over 100 questions to less than 50 will no doubt make it easier for many of the nearly 18 million students and their families who complete it annually. However, the changes are more complicated for the institutions tasked with swiftly modifying their financial aid award formulas and allocation processes to align with the new form. The rollout of the simplified form presents the following challenges for institutions:
Financial aid officers can consider factors such as the family’s number of college students during a professional judgment review, and they will likely see increased demand for one-on-one advising and counsel as students and families navigate the changes to needs analysis and other elements of the process.
Several vendors now offer cloud-native SaaS solutions that go beyond cool user interfaces with functionality that can significantly reduce the manual effort needed to calculate and award aid.
Institutions that have modernized their financial aid solutions are likely in a better position to weather the impact of these changes and handle the deluge of related queries from students and families, assuming they have engineered their people, processes, and data to take full advantage of their modern systems.
Based on our analysis of clients who have maximized their modern financial aid solution investment, we have identified some common threads in their approaches to implementing and leveraging their systems. The following best practices are helpful for other institutions to consider as they gear up for a highly complex debut year for the simplified FAFSA:
While many students and families will welcome the simplification of the FAFSA, the myriad of other changes may not be so welcome for many who may see awards decrease from the past. These changes will have an impact on both financial aid offices and students.
Institutions that have modernized their financial aid solutions and continue to re-engineer their processes to take advantage of the latest tools may be in the best position to deal with the complexities and issues related to the FAFSA Simplification Act changes.
Tambellini can help you consider the optimal financial aid tools and systems for your institution and, more importantly, how to best position your people, processes, and data to maximize the benefits of your technology investments. Reach out to a Tambellini analyst on our team for more guidance.
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