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Will FAFSA Simplification Make Life Easier for Colleges and Applicants?

Episode 154

June 13, 2023 36 minutes


EAB’s Kathy Ruby and Madeleine Rhyneer explore changes to FAFSA forms themselves and how the federal government calculates eligibility for student financial aid. They highlight winners and losers under the new federal formula and examine how the changes may impact different types of institutions.

They also share advice with university leaders on how to communicate with students and parents who are struggling to understand what the coming changes may mean for them.



0:00:12.1 Speaker 1: Hello and welcome to office hours with the EAB. The FAFSA is getting a makeover later this year, and there are still a lot of unknowns, new federal guidance is expected to be offered before the end of the year, unfortunately colleges and families need answers before the fall. Our experts share what they know about the changes and offer tips to institutions about how to communicate with families now, even though they don’t have all the answers yet, give these folks a listen and enjoy.

0:00:42.8 Madeleine Rhyneer: Well, hello and welcome to office hours with EAB. My name is Madeleine Rhyneer, and I’m EAB vice president of consulting services and Dean of Enrollment Management. I’ve talked with many of you, and you know that I spent a lot of years leading in Roman Teams for several universities, so I definitely understand that challenges you all are facing, and as if things weren’t already challenging enough, we’re all planning and strategizing for FAFSA simplification. Funny how a simplification project turned out to be so complicated. Simplifying the FAFSA is a good thing and we should all be happy that the federal government is trying to make things easier for students and families, however, as with any big change, there is uncertainty, and surely there will be unintended consequences to emerge.

0:01:33.4 MR: With me today to talk about what these changes will likely mean to institutions and families is my colleague, Kathy Ruby. Kathy, would you mind introducing yourself and telling us a little bit about your role at EAB?

0:01:46.7 Kathy Ruby: Hi Madeleine to be with you here today. I am a principal for financial aid partner success at EAB. I’ve been with EAB for about four years doing that work with colleges around the country, working on financial aid strategy. I am a former college financial aid administrator myself, so I kinda come out this topic with quite a bit of knowledge about what’s happening in financial aid offices and how much stress and uncertainty this whole new change is creating for our colleagues on campuses.

0:02:18.4 MR: So thanks for that, Kathy. And one of the things you also bring is high empathy for them. So you have a very high technical skill, but you also have empathy for the kinds of challenges that financial aid teams and also families, students and families working through this process will be under. So for the sake of our listeners who may not be intimately familiar with the FAFSA, could you give us a high-level overview and how it is used to determine how much federal aid a student might be eligible for?

0:02:47.5 KR: Sure, so yeah, it’s very important to level set to know what the current situation is. So the FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and essentially it’s the form that families complete every year to be considered for federal financial aid and in many instances, institutional financial aid as well, in most instances for most colleges. So when a family completes the FAFSA, they provide a whole massive income and asset information, and the federal government uses that data to calculate what’s called an expected family contribution, and that EFC, as it’s known, is subtracted from the colleges cost of attendance to determine how much financial need that a student has, and then the college figures out based on the available funds that they have, how much of that need they can meet. The other important thing about that EFC is it’s used to determine eligibility for the Federal Pell Grants so it falls within a certain range, I think this year, between zero and 66, 56, then the student qualifies for a Federal Pell Grants, so that EFC really determines eligibility for federal financial aid.

0:04:02.4 MR: And state scholarships to as well.

0:04:05.1 KR: And state scholarships and grants as well, yes, absolutely. Different states use it in different ways, but, yes, absolutely. So.

0:04:11.4 MR: So we know from the enrollment sort of perspective that often you can get students to apply for admission, but sometimes getting them over the hurdle of filing a FAFSA seems sometimes a bit steeper. A bit steeper hill to climb. Can you share from your perspective, why you think that filing the FAFSA is a barrier for students and families?

0:04:30.9 KR: Yeah, I think it’s an intimidating form, I think it’s long, it’s got lots of questions, it requires quite a bit of information to have at your side from… If you’re a student who’s under the age of 24 and considered a dependent student, you’ve got to gather quite a bit of information from your parents, so it’s complicated as much as… Now, I’ve been doing this for a really long time. A very long time. It is simpler than it used to be, but it’s still a long and complicated form, and I think that just creates a barrier, students get started and then they just can’t quite finish.

0:05:06.8 MR: Yeah. Yeah. It’s kind of and it’s in that Federal Government language, it’s the financial aid version of a tax return, and when you think about how much fun people have filling out their tax returns for those who have not filed a FAFSA or have not filed one recently, I think people approach it with the same level of enthusiasm. So. Alrighty, that is awesome level setting, I really appreciate it. So let’s move forward to what are the key FAFSA changes and what are some of the unknowns at this point, Kathy?

0:05:37.1 KR: So I think the key changes are they’ve shortened it, and that was the goal, and that was important, and they shortened it in a way where they were trying to make sure that the income data that’s provided from the form could be obtained directly from the IRS. Now, the financial aid folks in the audience will know that was already happening at a certain level, but this is a next level kind of situation where all of the income that’s required to calculate that eligibility can be obtained right from the tax form. So that’s the good part here is they really were working to simplify the form. The other thing they did was to change the name of the EFC to the SAI. So now instead of expected family contribution, it will be a student Aid index.

0:06:24.7 KR: The other changes are related to eligibility, so remember when I said that Federal Pell Grants eligibility is based on the range of EFC that a family has. Well, now there’s another way to qualify for an EFC and essentially it’s based on a family’s household size and the US poverty levels. And if a family falls under certain levels, they automatically… Or if a parent falls under or a dependent student, if a parent falls under certain levels, they will automatically qualify for a maximum Pell Grants and then if they fall under a different level, they’ll automatically qualify for a minimum Pell Grants. So it’s adding transparency to the process because of the government and colleges will be able to publish tables to say, Hey, families, if your incomes fall within this band, you’re gonna qualify for a Pell Grants, we can tell you right up front. So again, moving toward transparency and simplicity, they added that feature.

0:07:22.7 KR: The other thing that does, by the way, tell me if I’m digressing too much, is it helps dependent students who previously, if you had a low income dependent student who was working hard to support the family and had quite a bit of income on their own, they could work themselves out of Pell Grants eligibility, and now that won’t happen anymore because it will be based solely on the parents income, and then the last thing they changed, and I could go on about this for hours, but I won’t, but they did change the need analysis itself, so the actual formula to calculate the SAI. Not structurally the same structure is there but they did some things like they’re protecting income better than they did before, and they’re gonna adjust those income protection allowances every year for inflation, which wasn’t happening before, so they’re doing some things to make students more eligible for need-based Aid and Federal Pell Grants.

0:08:22.4 MR: So I’m jokingly going to refer to SAI as the artist formerly known as EFC, in my conversations with enrollment teams. Could you talk just for a minute about one of the changes that’s been pretty widely reported is that families will now be able to have a negative SAI. So in the old FAFSA world the lowest you could go is zero, but apparently from what I understand, you can now have up to a minus 1500 SAI could you talk about that a bit?

0:08:52.3 KR: Yes. Yeah. So this is another way that they’ve adjusted the formula in a way to really try to capture for low income families, try to identify who are the neediest of the needy students. Now, when you think back to that original formula that I said, cost of attendance minus EFC equals financial need, you think if the SAI is now negative, that might mean the student can get $1500 more total. But the Department of Education has already said no, students are still constrained by the cost of attendance, they can’t receive more aid than the cost of attendance. But for institutions, this will be a way for them to identify who are the neediest students in their population and might they want to treat them differently because they’re even needier than students with a zero EFC.

0:09:39.5 MR: So Kathy, could you be anywhere from zero to minus 1500 or is it zero or minus 1500.

0:09:46.0 KR: It’s zero to 1500. So it could be in between.

0:09:50.0 MR: So it’s a sliding scale?

0:09:50.0 KR: Yeah. It’s a sliding scale.

0:09:53.1 MR: Got it. So based on both your experience and all the research that you’ve done on the simplified FAFSA. Do you think that there are gonna be any student populations that might be impacted particularly by this, and if there are, are there things that colleges and university should be thinking about right now to prepare for how they would package and then fund those students?

0:10:15.5 KR: Yeah. Absolutely. And there are going to be… And there are gonna be winners and they’re gonna be losers, so as we’ve started to look at our… As you’re reading what’s out there, what institutions are sharing, and then as we’ve been working with our partners, as they’ve been using the NASFAA student aid index modeling tool, we’re certainly seeing that more students are better off, than worse off, but the students who are better off are tending to be lower income and middle to lower income families, those are the students who are benefiting most from the changes in the formula and they are… More of them are eligible for Pell Grants, and then more of them are ending up with SAIs that are lower than what their EFC would have been. But there are also some losers, and I think the two areas that institutions and all of us are most concerned about are, first that the… In the past, for the past 10 years, 11 years, we have not been asking families to report the value of a family-owned business. If they had fewer than 100 employees, it was not required to be reported.

0:11:25.4 KR: It was also true that if a family lived on a farm, lived on and materially participated in the operation of a farm, it did not have to be reported as an asset, those two items now have to be reported again, and those are things that it’s hard to model what that impact will be because we don’t have that information and haven’t had it for the last several years, so that’s one concern, so those families will lose some eligibility. The other families that may lose some eligibility are families who have multiple children in college. So when that EFC is calculated, the parent portion of it is always divided by the number of students in the household in college. In SAI world, that will no longer happen. And so there will be some families that are impacted. Now remember, there are other things happening in the formula that are making students more eligible, so what we’ve started to see is we’ve looked at our partner’s data, and what we’re reading about is that, again, now it’s middle to middle upper income families that are most impacted by that change from the number in college, because for lower income families, some are impacted, but the other changes in the formula are hopefully compensating for that. Now, what does that actually mean and that’s the question that institutions have to address.

0:12:46.3 KR: At a public institution where there may not be awarding much institutional need-based aid to higher income families, certainly maybe not a concern for them, could be a concern certainly for returning students. So I think it’s very important that colleges are identifying within their current population who are the losers, who’s gonna lose federal aid and can they keep them whole. That’s super important. But then for private institutions, I think and feel free to chime in on this, I think it’s two issues. For some private institutions, they weren’t enough merit aid and their costs are low enough and maybe they don’t award that much need-based aid. There may not be a real dollar amount of impact for those families, for some families. And so for those families, they never really lost money, but there’s a perception that they’re worse off because now it’s no longer being counted. And then there are higher cost private colleges, of course, that have significant need-based dollars. Some of those colleges require the CSS profile anyway, and they’re probably gonna continue to count the number in college, but there are some private institutions, I think, where they’re gonna wanna carefully assess the impact and the perceptions on their population.

0:14:07.9 MR: See, you’re kind of feeding into my earlier comment about a simplified FAFSA leading to such a complex range of questions because it’s a little bit like a puzzle, we can anticipate what some of the changes will be, and then we can apply those to our student population, both continuing students and those we believe we would be enrolling in the future to try and model what the financial impact would be and then make decisions about what those are. But I think one of the pieces that’s harder to anticipate is if people already think financial aid is a Rubik’s cube and a black box that nobody understands, this will just be another version of the same thing. And telling them that it’s simpler, which is true but if you’ve never filed a FAFSA before, telling them it’s simpler won’t matter ’cause they never did it before.

0:14:55.2 KR: Yeah. Exactly.

0:14:55.9 MR: Other than if you tell them, stop listening to what your friends told you who’ve already filed a FAFSA, start listening to what people are doing this year. But I think that there are a whole range of questions that institutions wanna think about. And you mentioned the NAFSA modeling tool, which I think is excellent, it’s a great place to start, but one question I wanted to ask you, you referred to middle income for the purposes of this conversation what do you think of this? What do you think is middle income?

0:15:27.6 KR: Yeah. Oh boy, don’t ask me specifics, but I’m thinking middle income in the 70, 80 or higher is what I would consider where they could start to be impacted. Lower than that… I mean, there’s not a straight line, it depends on the family of course.

0:15:39.8 MR: Yes.

0:15:40.5 KR: And all kinds of different factors, but yeah when I think about middle to middle upper income families in the context of paying for college, it’s sort of like the 80 and above and when I think about for private college really the importance of communicating whatever it is, whether you know yet what you’re going to do, but communicating about your affordability, the importance of your merit aid, all of those pieces. Because you don’t want families eliminating you from consideration just because they’ve heard, oh, I can’t count the multiple kids in college anymore. Private colleges aren’t gonna be affordable anymore.

0:16:17.0 MR: Yes. Exactly.

0:16:19.1 KR: That to me is the concern, that you have to be… You’re battling the rumors ’cause it… And it’s important to get out in front of it.

0:16:28.5 MR: Well, I wanna put a pin in that ’cause I wanna come back to your good pieces of advice ’cause I know that you have a lot of them. But I will just add, EAB knows from all the research that we do, that the number one thing that’s on students minds as they’re choosing a college is cost and indebtedness.

0:16:45.5 KR: Yes.

0:16:46.8 MR: And the number one thing on their parents minds is, how will I pay for college? What will be the return on investment? Will I have to incur significant debt? Will my student have to incur significant debt? So I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate the impact of cost regardless of family income, you may be a person of really modest means who just doesn’t have the money, you may be a person of greater means, but you wanna be very careful, you’re very particular about how you’re spending the money that you do have. So I think that’s an important consideration and I’m really glad that you brought that up. But one of the things that I do wanna tap into, and you’ve sort of led right into this is, we do have a pretty good idea right now, we can anticipate some of the consequences of the simplified FAFSA. But we hear from a number of our colleagues across the country that they feel like they just don’t have enough information yet to actually advise families about what their policies will be and what the family ought to do. A little bit like the old, well they’re building the airplane while we’re flying in and we don’t really know what to tell people, but I’m thinking in a world where we know that everyone is so cost sensitive, in that if you don’t have a story that’s a negative, what are your thoughts?

0:18:00.6 KR: Yeah. I think that this is where there is, ’cause there is quite a bit unknown and when I think about the unknowns, it is for instance we have… It appears we’re gonna have a lot more Pell eligible students. Will there be funding to match those additional or to give current funding levels to all of those students? Or will we be giving less money to more students? That’s one unknown. Other unknown simply the impact of the business and small farm and the number in college, which again, I would say colleges can start to anticipate what the actual impact is using the NAFSA modeling tool, but then coming up with a plan to address it. So I think, what we can do though, what I would say is focus on what you do know and get super proactive about what you’re communicating. So know that families are gonna have questions, have your staff ready and trained to answer at whatever level they can answer. But always framing it in the context of “We’re here for you, we’re here to help you through the process as we learn more, stay tuned to the special part of our website, whatever it might be. And we’ll keep you updated on policies ans processes.” I think that even there, though we don’t know a lot of information, there’s lots of things that institutions can do to get prepared and plan for what’s gonna come down the pipe.

0:19:19.4 MR: Got it.

0:19:19.9 KR: It’s not too superficial, but I think there’s an opportunity there.

0:19:25.3 MR: Well, the unfortunate thing, and I think you alluded to this earlier, is in the absence of a narrative, people create their own story, and so the story they’ll create is, “Oh my goodness, this is gonna have a bad impact on me, whoever my family is,” and it could be a family that actually would be benefiting by a simplified FAFSA, but of course you just don’t know enough about it, and then that causes them to think it’s another sort of nail in the coffin for some families about, “Is college for me anyway? Am I gonna go to college? Can I afford it? Is that really gonna work out?” One of the other things I wanted to ask you about is, so we’re thinking a lot about families and the impact on them, are there any changes in this simplified FAFSA that are going to simplify things for financial aid teams, perhaps in terms of verification or other important tasks that they complete as agents of the Federal Government.

0:20:18.6 KR: I think so. I hope so. Yes. But I think we don’t… That’s one of the unknowns. We don’t know for sure that verification loads will be lightened, but it seems logical to think they will be considering that income will be coming directly from the IRS. So there is… I think in the short term, there’s not gonna be less workload, certainly there’s gonna be more with a condensed process, and we have forgotten to mention that, of course, that the Department of Education has said that they’ll be releasing the new FAFSA in December versus when it’s normally released, which is in October, so we know that colleges are gonna be stressed to get everything done in a shorter period of time, but I think in the long term, this should be able to shift some administrative burden from financial aid offices. I’m a sunny optimist. But in the short term, I do think that there’s gonna be quite a bit of work upfront, and so I think institutions have to acknowledge that and figure out how to marshal their resources to get everyone on board to get kids through the process quickly, as soon as that FAFSA does become available in December.

0:21:32.1 MR: You know the irony for both of us because we’ve been in this field for so long as it’s like everything old is new again, ’cause the FAFSA used to become available on January 1, and then it was this huge disturbance in the forest when it moved to October 1, and we were all like, “Oh no, oh no. What will we do? What will we do?” And now, at least for this coming year, and I think you’re quite right. I think it’s… I’m betting on late December personally, but it’s not that I’m not an optimist, I try to be a realist about this. But I think so the form becomes available some time in December, many people are using leveraging systems, they may be using it through their SIS, might be using Power Fades or some other… So you have to wait for those updates to be completed, I have a very high empathy for financial aid team. So on the one hand, it’s like plan now, I think you would say, Let’s figure out what we can tell people now and communicate. Let’s figure out what kind of preparations we can make internally to anticipate what will be coming, but then there’s just going to be. I think some moments of high anxiety and how to manage internally as well as manage externally.

0:22:40.4 KR: Yeah. Let me just add too. I was thinking too about the opportunities for communication, and I think this year, the merit scholarship letters are gonna be more important than ever before, ’cause they’re your opportunity to say, “Here you are, here’s how much we love you, here’s how affordable we can be, and by the way, here’s what’s happening with the FAFSA and here’s how we’re here to support you.” Yeah.

0:23:01.9 MR: It’s really interesting, I worked with a president who actually just said, not to families, but internally, no one loves you when you give them money because you come from constrained financial resources, people love you when you give them money because you’re investing in them, because you believe in them, in the old pretty woman, I think you’ve got a lot of potential, Kathy Ruby, and I wanna give you this big Merit Scholarship, and I know that that’s not the mindset of many teams because they’re concerned about access and equity, which I completely understand, but if there ever was a year to just say, “Well, we might have to throw a bit of our playbook out of the window, at least temporarily, to sort of the go bigger, go home approach,” because it may keep you in the game in a very tough market environment in a time when maybe the way we’ve always done it would not be effective in this year of transition.

0:23:54.3 KR: Yeah. And I think it’s where private colleges think about this all the time, but not enough, I think sometimes just remember, you’re an institution and you can do what you want with your institutional dollars and then fit it into the confines of what we know the federal government’s rules are. And so you might have to get creative.

0:24:15.5 MR: Well, and we hope you do get creative that you actually see that as like, I don’t have to do it the way I’ve always done it. I could think about doing it differently for this one year, I will say in terms of institutional responses, I’ve already spoken to some partners who decided that they’re just gonna keep their current students whole, regardless of what occurs on the simplified FAFSA, if you were getting a larger scholarship, because your family had three in college, we’re just gonna keep that going because I think retention is on the minds of many enrollment teams because retention is certainly a key component of overall enrollment success, and it seems like anyway, that you can reduce uncertainty for the people who are already with you, part of your family, and you may not be able to make that promise, that may not be possible, but any promises that could be made to reassure students and families who are already in your family feels like kind of a really good approach.

0:25:10.8 KR: Yeah. Anything you can do. And many of the institutions I’ve talked with already have a policy of, we don’t change need-based grant unless something significant changes in your situation, and this is one of those situations, you have to just look the other way, don’t care that the SAI just went up by whatever and just say, let’s leave them where they are, because that’s what they need.

0:25:35.0 MR: Yeah. Well, families love predictability.

0:25:37.7 KR: Yes.

0:25:38.9 MR: They do, it’s kind of like, you may not love your mortgage or your car loan payment, but unless you’ve been a little crazy and got an adjustable rate, you actually… It’s something that you can plan for, and especially for families, if they come from modest circumstances, thinking about that going up dramatically, the payment is really concerning. It’s really concerning for them. So what advice are you giving to enrollment leaders, we’ve already started dipping our toes here, so let’s just keep going. What are you thinking, what more advice would you give about your own internal practices right now, what should you be doing, how might you be communicating with students and parents?

0:26:17.1 KR: So I think the key will be to be positive, and I think really thinking through a communication plan, and this is where financial aid offices often are not part of the marketing office on campus. But this is an opportunity to bring in the other professionals on your campus I think to really get some good advice on how best to communicate to current students and to prospective students, they’re two separate communication streams. And think through that communication plan how you wanna roll it out, and it also will give you the timeline for when you need to make certain decisions around what you’re gonna do for your returning students, I know that we’re sort of in a hurry up and wait kind of time right now, I mean most of the institutions that I’m working with, they don’t wanna scare the returning students right now, they’re wrapping up finals, they’re heading off for the summer, there’s no reason to cause a bunch of alarm right now, so there’s a fine line, and that’s why you need, actually I would argue that’s why you need the communication folks, because I’m a financial aid person, I can say this, I tend to be very business-like in my communications and very, This is what you need to do, and there are ways to soften and enhance these messages that I think you should take advantage of the communication professionals you have on your campus.

0:27:41.1 MR: One of the things I really appreciate about that is, I think it’s actually possible to say, or my communications background, could say, there’s a lot of uncertainty out there about the simplified FAFSA and what it means in general, and for you, you’re concerned about what it means for you and your family. And then it could be, here’s what we know, and here are the guarantees that we can give you today, here are the assurances that we can offer you, guarantees, reassurances, depending on what your circumstances are and how reassuring you can be, but I think actually going at it head on, as opposed to, it’s different, you need to do these things. And like, Here’s your timeline, I don’t think that works when there is no change particularly, and it isn’t that financial aid folks aren’t… I actually think they have very high empathy, but they’re not trained email message communicators, they’re trained in their one-on-one interactions with families, trying to help people find a way to make it work, so please don’t cast yourself or your colleague, this is uncaring ’cause we know that that’s not true. Oh my gosh, those folks have the deepest hearts I’ve ever seen for students and families the most love, but they also love their rules, so we have to help them marry those two.

0:28:53.4 KR: And they often, as you introduced everything and talked about change, that was one of the reasons I actually loved working in financial aid was things did change and that creates a challenge and that can be a good… That’s a good thing too. I would also think about your different audiences though, as institutions are figuring out their communications and think about counselors that are out there, this goes back to, Do you want to give the message, or do you want others creating a message, and so do whatever you can do to support the counselors that you work with as well, the college counselors and high school counselors, because they’ll be puzzled and flummoxed, and I think where institutions may be able help here, and again, these are some unknowns, but there are… We haven’t talked much about, there are some parts of the process that are changing for students and families in terms of how they sign into the FAFSA, how they release permission to share IRS data, so the process itself of getting into the FAFSA will be a little more cumbersome, and that’s necessary because now the information is coming right from the IRS, so that means there are some additional hoops to jump through. But think about how you can support counselors as they’re supporting families.

0:30:10.0 KR: I think that colleges are gonna have to be more proactive in that whole, How do you complete a faster communication stream than they’ve ever been before, just because everyone’s gonna be working to get families through this.

0:30:23.3 MR: So before all the states ban TikTok videos, I often think about financial aid like a chapter book, because it is like filing your tax return, just the thought of sitting down to do it, it’s monolithic, it’s intimidating. And it’s not very fun. So it’s almost like, Here’s what you need, the fun thing about, here are the three things that you need, and then here’s the… Maybe there’s a fun thing with a little graphic that says, Here’s how you get it, here’s how you sign in, here’s the process, ’cause again, new, not new, it doesn’t matter, just, here’s the process. I think about information in small bytes or just in time information.

0:30:58.5 KR: Yes. Exactly.

0:30:58.5 MR: Do you think… And I’m not meaning to make fun of this process, but I’m also trying to think about how is it that we get to people where they are as opposed to expecting them to come where we are, where we tend to be more serious and…

0:31:11.9 KR: Yeah. I think those things work. I think the kids are more visual and their parents are more visual, and I think that you can… That will be the good thing about all this, there will be a few steps to get in, and then once you’re in the process will be shorter, so you can divide it into bytes, you can… I think that we’ve found success when we send emails with videos in them. Students and parents are willing to open those things, and so just again, thinking outside the box in terms of ways you can communicate about the process. It is intimidating. I sat through the FSA webinar the other day about how families will sign in, but it’s manageable, and they did a good job with complete training there, but it’s manageable, I think, but it’s gonna create some challenges for some students. So be ready to anticipate that.

0:32:07.5 MR: Well, I really appreciate your honoring the great work of high school counselors, those who are advising students and families in this college journey, because if we certainly saw anything in the pandemic, we saw the amount of work that they did. And the lack of face-to-face interaction with students and how that had an impact on students deciding to go to college, so I think any helping hand that could be extended for financial aid nights, programs of that kind, fun videos that you could ask them to link their students to, anything to help them because they want students to be successful just as much as we all do.

0:32:43.4 KR: Yes.

0:32:44.4 MR: Well, to kinda bring this full circle, are there any potential long-term impacts or shift that you think might occur as a result of the simplified FAFSA. Put on your forecasting hat, Kathy.


0:33:00.4 KR: Okay. So I think… No, I hope. What I hope is that it accomplishes what it was set out to do, which is to increase the FAFSA filing rate to get more students into the college pipeline and get more students into college and successfully paying for college. So that’s really what we want, and that’s what we kinda have to remember is the purpose of all of it, and I think eventually it can work, it’s just gonna be a transitional year for sure, when I think about it in the broader perspective, and specifically with the changes to the number in college and how that’s sort of inflating the SAI for some families, at least in relation to what it used to be, I do wonder whether it will create, maybe in the long-term, maybe in the short term, a shift to more merit aid and less need-based aid at least in private colleges and maybe some public institutions, just because there’ll be less of a reliance on a number that institutions may feel doesn’t actually represent what a family is able or willing to pay, which is a very important distinction, ’cause when we step back from it all, remember that expected family contribution, most families, when they saw the EFC, much less the SAI looked at it and said, “What? I can’t pay that.” So I don’t know. In long term that’s just using on my part, will there be less reliance on an overall, except for the students, the more students who will qualify for Pell grants and have more financial need.

0:34:34.1 MR: Well, here’s a thought, maybe we get together a year from now, and we have podcast part two, where we actually talk about, Here are some things we were speculating about a year ago, and here’s how those actually played out, ’cause I think the proof will be in the pudding. We’re speculating and that’s all you could do at this point, but like you, I wanna be very optimistic that more students file, that more have the opportunity to open those doors and go to college. This is what I think all of us want in our country.

0:35:04.7 KR: Absolutely.

0:35:05.6 MR: So Kathy, I just wanna thank you so much, I really appreciate your expertise, and I appreciate your experience. But the thing I most value about you as a colleague is the incredible humanity you bring to a process where we’re always dealing with individuals, but sometimes it just feels like it’s a forum and I’m a number and that’s all there is. So thank you for that.

0:35:27.7 KR: Well, thank you Madeleine. It’s really a pleasure to talk with you today.


0:35:37.2 Speaker 1: Thank you for listening. Please join us next week when we’re joined by the President of Drexel University and the CEO of Saxbys Coffee, who share details of a unique partnership that gives students hands-on experiential learning, operating and managing a small business for which they draw a salary and receive college credit. Until next week, thank you for your time.


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