Grassley says new college financial aid forms may hurt farm families

WASHINGTON — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is criticizing the U.S. Department of Education for delays in releasing the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Grassley, a Republican, says bureaucrats at the ed department have failed to offer clear guidance to students, families and universities on how to navigate the application form, which he says could impact access to aid for many thousands of students, while also penalizing farm families.

“Farmers may, because of inflation of land prices, may have a lot of wealth, but they may not have the income to send their kids to school,” Grassley says, “and particularly if they’ve got more than one kid in college, then maybe they won’t qualify for Pell Grants and guaranteed student loans.”

Grassley says the redesigned FAFSA was supposed to streamline the federal financial aid process and help one-and-a-half million more students, including over 13,500 Iowans, to access the maximum Pell Grant award. The new FAFSA was made possible through bipartisan legislation Congress passed in 2020. He says that was three years ago and we’re still waiting.

“This is an effort to socialize aid to colleges for the first time since the 1960s. We can’t penalize small business and farmers because they might have a lot of wealth,” Grassley says. “You’ve got to base it on the income because if the families don’t have an income, then their kids aren’t going to go to school.”

Federal education officials announced earlier this month the new FAFSA would be available by December 31st, but Grassley says they neglected to specify a date and warned of processing delays in the coming months, escalating uncertainty for students and their families.

“Usually that’s done by October 1st and so it’s going to take these colleges a long time to get on top of it,” Grassley says, “and so you aren’t going to be able to know whether you’re going to be able to afford to go to college just because of the slowness of the bureaucracy.”

Grassley is calling on the department to focus on implementing the simplified FAFSA process, rather than transferring student loan debt to the taxpayers.