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Gates Foundation Seeks to Ease Federal Financial Aid Process

Two million more young people could get the financial aid they need to go to college if the federal government makes it easier to fill out its financial aid forms, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said Wednesday.

The Seattle-based foundation said revising the form would be relatively simple and would not change the accuracy of the process.

Students must fill out the form known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA before they can qualify for a federal grant, subsidized student loan or nearly any other form of college financial aid.

The Gates Foundation has taken aim at the FAFSA as part of its strategy to make college more accessible to low-income students, said Dan Greenstein, director of the Postsecondary Success team at the foundation.

They are far from alone in calling for reform of this complex application process that requires students to answer numerous questions each year about their parent’s financial status and tax returns.

“There is already a lot of conversation around financial aid and FAFSA simplification. We’re delighted to contribute to the debate,” Greenstein said.