WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today joined a bipartisan group of senators in calling for an immediate mid-cycle patch to the current FAFSA form so that students’ access to financial aid is not disrupted. An IRS glitch occurred after the 2017 Trump Tax Bill was implemented, which has caused confusion among applicants.
“The Department can, and has, previously updated FAFSA questions in the middle of an application cycle…This patching process requires no action on behalf of applicants, state grant agencies, or institutions of higher education,” the group of senators wrote to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. “Simplifying the financial aid process and FAFSA form has long been a bipartisan objective, and everyone should be united in addressing this issue as soon as possible.”
In August, the senators raised concerns that following passage of the 2017 tax law, changes on to the core 1040 tax form disrupted functions of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which allows students to automatically and accurately fill in their family’s tax information on their FAFSA form for student aid. In a response to the senators, the Department of Education stated that it “intends to implement a solution” for the 2021-2022 FAFSA cycle.
However, the agency has failed to make several simple modifications to the FAFSA form to reduce the problems that students are experiencing now. In the letter sent today, the Senators discuss the importance of a mid-cycle patch to the FAFSA to ensure that no student’s access to financial aid is in jeopardy.
“This Administration’s failure to properly address their computer glitch, a symptom of Trump’s Tax Scam, has made this year’s FAFSA form confusing and complicated. I worry that without straight forward and proper guidance, families will be denied the financial aid they are otherwise entitled to,” said Sen. Menendez. “The Department of Education has a responsibility to students across the country, and I will continue pressing them to amend the FAFSA form to make the application process easier and to ensure students receive the correct amount of aid.”
Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) also signed the letter to Secretary DeVos.
A full copy of the letter can be found here.
April 22, 2021