Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings last week unveiled a new online tool created to help students and families plan financially for college. Called the FAFSA4caster, it would provide students and parents with an early estimate of how much federal financial aid they are eligible for, including Pell Grants.
The new service would also reduce the amount of time needed to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, by transferring some information from the online tool to the longer federal financial-aid form.
Secretary Spellings said on March 21 that the federal Commission on Higher Education, a panel that made long-range recommendations for the nation’s colleges, cited a “crying need to get this information to students and families much quicker” in its final report last year.
Meanwhile, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced a bill last week that aims to simplify the FAFSA form. The measure, called the College Aid Made EZ Act, would cut the form from five pages to two by reducing the number of questions students and their parents must answer.
The bill would also create a pre-FAFSA form to allow families to apply for financial aid while students are high school juniors, giving them an extra year to plan.
A version of this article appeared in the March 28, 2007 edition of Education Week