14 Aug Get Ready for a Mobile-Friendly FAFSA
College students and their parents have complained for years that it is too difficult to complete the FAFSA. Many find the process so overwhelming that they don’t even bother to apply. This hurts the student as the FAFSA is used to determine financial aid eligibility for federal, state, and institutional aid, as well as some external college scholarships.
To address these issues and encourage more students to apply for financial aid, Secretary DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education are in the process of implementing a vision to transform Federal Student Aid and dramatically improve customer service. They’re calling it FSA’s Next Generation (Next Gen) Financial Services Environment, and it promises to bring all aspects of financial aid into the digital age, from application to federal student loan repayment.
Changes are already in progress, with more promised upgrades on the way. Here are just some of the changes you can expect to see with Federal Student Aid this year and in the future:
- FAFSAgov: Take a look around the new and improved website. If you are just there to file a FAFSA, the two links are right at the top. If you are there to educate yourself and get more information about federal student aid, the redesigned site is much easier to understand and navigate. While there, be sure to check your state’s financial aid deadline, and take a look at some of their videos and PDFs. If you want to get a better handle on how much financial aid you might receive so you can determine if you need to look into any private student loan lenders, spend some time with the FAFSA4caster. If you’re just starting out on the college selection process, you can begin comparing costs with the College Scorecard.
- Mobile-Friendly FAFSA: With so much of the college-age population tethered to their mobile devices, few have access to traditional computer technology. To address this shortfall, students and parents will now be able to complete the FAFSA on any mobile device as well as a desktop or laptop computer. This is a big step forward and should make filing much more accessible. When the FAFSA for the 2019-2020 academic year comes online October 1, you’ll also notice there are “tool tips” to provide answers to questions you may have about individual FAFSA questions. The questions themselves are also going to be displayed in a more user-friendly way with a few grouped in a different order than they were previously. This is designed to make navigation easier for FAFSA applicants.
- Coming Soon – FAFSA Completion on myStudentAid Mobile App: The Department of Education plans to launch its myStudentAid mobile app soon, beginning with a myFAFSA component, and gradually adding additional capabilities. The mobile app is envisioned as being able to offer customized screens based on a user’s role as either a student or parent. FAFSA.gov will also be integrated into the StudentAid.gov online portal, so that users will also have the ability to easily switch between a mobile device and a desktop or laptop when completing the FAFSA.
Students who have completed their education also complain about finding federal student loan information, when they can easily find information on their other loans from private lenders like College Ave. FSA reports that it is currently researching both web and mobile customer service experiences in the financial services industry to determine best practices regarding processing, hosting, analytics and payment processing. They anticipate being able to develop and present a new loan servicing platform that is promised to be of substantial benefit to federal student loan borrowers.
What does all of this mean for students? Although you will be able to complete the FAFSA from wherever you are using whatever device you have, it also means you will have to start your financial aid research even earlier this year. Check out the new FAFSA website, start working with the financial aid calculators, get the details on federal student loans, and research a few private student loan providers like College Ave. That way, you won’t be playing catch-up when the new system rolls out on October 1!