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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox
News Editor

I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

New, simpler FAFSA form to be unveiled

After the tax forms, the phone calls home to his mom and dad and the long hours of paper work, NMU freshman Dan Moore thought he’d be getting his financial aid. What he got instead was a long wait, and more frustration.

“Right now I’m still waiting on [a Federal Application for Federal Student Aid form] to be processed that I turned in a month ago,” Moore said. “It’s just a pain in the neck.”

The FAFSA form is required to receive federal financial aid.

To help students like Moore, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) is now taking steps to simplify the FAFSA process.

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“They’re trying to reduce the length of the FAFSA,” said Mike Rotundo, director of Financial Aid at NMU. “When you have an application that’s a hundred questions long, there are folks who don’t fill it out because it’s asking for a lot of information. It’s like filling out a tax return.”

The DOE is currently trying to obtain access to the income tax information that students and parents submit to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This information accounts for 31 of the 102 question on the FAFSA, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.

But Moore said the complexity of the form isn’t the only problem with FAFSA.

“On the FAFSA it asks you all your income tax questions, and then Northern asks you for a copy of your federal income tax and your parents’ income tax.” Moore said, “When you do turn it in, it takes [NMU] forever to process it.”

If the DOE had access to IRS data, however, the financial portion of the FASFA would no longer require additional verification according to Inside Higher Ed. Right now, colleges and universities have to verify the financial claims on FAFSA forms, a burden that costs about $400 million nationally.

“If the IRS was accommodating then they could just have the students fill out their information,” Rotundo said, “and parents, with a release, could just download the [income] information.”

Aside from the request for IRS data, last month U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced the release of a new program to simplify the FAFSA and help prospective students plan for college.

The new online tool, called the FAFSA4caster, would help high school students and their families plan finances for college. Based on financial information entered before the high school student’s senior year, the program can forecast the amount of expected aid the family will receive.

“Families need more information sooner about students’ federal aid eligibility so that they can plan ahead for college,” Spellings said in the press release.

The FAFSA4caster also fills in 51 of the 102 questions when it comes time for students to fill out their first real FAFSA form. This simplifies the form significantly, according to Spellings.

Rotundo said the FASFA4caster will be a great tool for families to see if they’ll be eligible certaian federal grants other financial aid. Rotundo reminded students already attending Northern to get their FAFSA forms filled out as soon as possible.

“The sooner you fill it out, the sooner we can get the information together and give us the opportunity to get financial aid packages finalized.” he said.

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