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Years After Promises To Fix It, Key Financial-aid Form Still Thwarts Students

According to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, an estimated 2.3 million students a year would qualify for aid but don’t fill out the FAFSA. About 45 percent of high school seniors don’t complete the form, the Education Department reports.

The White House has announced a push to increase those numbers, not by making more improvements to the FAFSA, but by imploring students to finish it and recruiting mentors to help them. “All you have to do to access that aid is fill out this one little form,” First Lady Michelle Obama told a group of high school students in Virginia. “It’s so simple.”

In fact, there are still 100 questions on the FAFSA’s six pages, many of which have several parts and ask for sensitive financial data beyond what’s required even on a tax return. Some are straightforward, but many are so convoluted they require their own separate sections of instructions.