Lawmakers Push for 'Prior-Prior Year' Data on FAFSA

A group of U.S. Senators sent a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan last week urging the department to utilizing its authority to allow students to apply for federal financial aid based on "prior-prior year" tax information – their family's income from two years earlier instead of the immediately previous year, reported Inside Higher Ed.

The letter, signed by 51 Democrats and 2 Republicans, said that requiring students to provide tax information for the prior year has created a "highly disjoined process timeline" that especially harms low-income and first-generation students.

Currently, many colleges require students to apply for federal aid before they are able to file their taxes for the previous year.

"We do not need to wait to provide students and families much-needed relief," the letter says. "The Department can and should improve the process of filling out the FAFSA right now."

The change to prior-prior year data is backed by a wide range of groups, Inside Higher Ed reported, including student and consumer advocates, college access organizations, and associations representing colleges and universities.

Education Department officials have indicated that they support the change but are concerned about its financial cost to the government.


Related Links

Letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan

Inside Higher Ed