Financial aid application process unnecessarily complicated

Opinions Columnist | Electronic media junior

Financial aid should be easier for students to obtain.

Millions of dollars are poured into student aid funds every year, but receiving just the right amount proves to be one of the most difficult tasks. After all, each student applying for aid is literally racing against thousands of other students who also need aid. If the application process were a bit simpler, receiving financial aid would be a lot less trouble.

Any student who has applied for aid before should know there are many 10-foot flaming hoops to jump through. Before anyone can actually apply, they must first create user accounts on several different “.gov” websites. These sites usually require deeply personal information, such as social security numbers. Each site may also ask for information about both parents, which may not be readily available to the student.

The document requirements are just as sketchy. During my experience at Texas State, I have found that the appropriate documentation lacks specificity. Some form of a tax return is an obvious necessity, but there are several different forms with which citizens may file their taxes. If the student turns in the wrong form, they are forced to retrace their steps and produce the correct document. I made that mistake myself once and was not so much as notified of the error by the financial aid office. There is also much confusion as to what each document looks like, and a visual would definitely make the search easier.

Additionally, providing parental information should be unnecessary for independent students. Updating or transferring tax information for application purposes usually requires the parents to have a login and password to one of the previously mentioned government websites. Retrieving parental information of this caliber can only be done so by the parents themselves, making tax documents more difficult to obtain. The student is required to submit tax records themselves but cannot proceed with the application without their parents’ information. The need for parental information should be solely based on the average amount of money provided for the students’ college funding. If the parents are not assisting the student, their tax information is irrelevant.

The actual service in the Texas State financial aid office makes matters a lot more stressful. The office is frequently unresponsive or moving at a slow crawl. Usually only one of the five help desks is occupied at a time, essentially stopping the flow of students to a gradual drip. Obtaining financial aid should not be this difficult.

The various login accounts and parental information requirements are not necessary, and the service in the financial aid office should also be improved. If the government wants students to beg for money, they should at least have the courtesy to pass out the tin cups first.