As careful readers of this blog will recall, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today was going to roll out the administration’s plans to simplify the federal college-aid application process during the White House press briefing. He did so this afternoon, and was joined by IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman.
“The debate about how to simplify FAFSA [the Free Application for Federal Student Aid], I think, has been going on for over 20 years. So this change is long, long overdue,” said Mr. Duncan.
Some of the changes are already in place, while others will be phased in over the next few months (and still others will require legislation), according to the Education Department.
In a follow-up chat with several reporters just outside the White House press room, Duncan recalled his own frustrations with the application process when he was superintendent of the Chicago school system. “This damn form was killing us,” he said.
Mr. Duncan also said the Education Department is planning a public campaign this fall to help get more young people interested in college and to let them know about all the help that’s available. He emphasized that the campaign will not only target high school students, but try to reach them earlier, in the 6th and 7th grades.
“The goal will be for our young people to understand that college is a possibility if they work hard,” he said. “I want to get to children at a young enough age before they start to give up on that dream.”