Proposed bill would simplify student loan aid for some

Posted at 1:56 PM, Feb 04, 2019

Student loans are not a fun process for anyone, but for some students who don't have contact with their parents, it can make the already difficult process even harder.

To fix that problem, on Monday Congressman Elijah E. Cummings was joined by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, as well as Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes to introduce the FAFSA Fairness Act of 2019.

The legislation would simplify the process to apply for financial aid for students who do not have contact with their parents.

“I firmly believe that all qualified students should be able to attend college and have access to the resources they need to succeed regardless of their financial or life circumstances,” said Cummings. “Students who have escaped abusive homes, have been abandoned, have parents who are incarcerated, or who have other special circumstances that limit contact with their parents should have the same opportunities as their classmates who have not faced these obstacles. Instead, these students frequently abandon their goal of attending college because of the often long and complicated process of applying for student aid. This bill will help prevent our financial aid process from continuing to be an unintended barrier to higher education.”

And the others who proposed the bill echoed Cummings' beliefs. They all said that it is not fair to hold back certain students because they don't have the finances or the opportunity to apply for financial aid.

“We must make it easier for every student in America to apply for and receive financial assistance to make informed decisions about higher education,” said Sarbanes. “The FAFSA Fairness Act will ensure that any student – regardless of financial situation or family dynamics – can have the same ease of access to the FAFSA application process.

Students who don't have contact with their parents, or those who meet other criteria established by educational institutions, would be able to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid as "provisionally independent" students under the new bill if it passes. Right now, those student must undergo a "dependency override" at each place they apply before they are able to be even considered for financial aid.

“This legislation will open the doors of education for many students who could not attend Baltimore City Community College because they lacked access to Federal student aid,” said Sylvia Rochester, Baltimore City Community College Interim Vice President of Student Affairs.

This bill would not increase the workload of college financial aid administrators, it would make things easier for those students and potentially provide an incentive to complete the pricess and enroll in higher education.