Elijah Cummings Aims to Help Financial Aid Process for Students Who Have No Contact with Their Parents
Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) is hoping to improve access to financial aid for students who don’t have contact with their parents. He introduced legislation on Monday intended to ease the financial aid application process for these students, and provide an incentive to complete the entire process and enroll in higher education. The FAFSA Fairness Act would allow students who do not have contact with their parents, or who meet other criteria established by educational institutions, to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as “provisionally independent” students. Currently, these students must undergo a “dependency override” at each institution they apply to before they are able to be considered for financial aid. This process can be extremely time-consuming and a barrier to college access for students with these difficult personal and financial circumstances. "Students who have escaped abusive homes, have been abandoned, have parents who are incarcerated, or who have other special circumstances that limit contact with their parents should have the same opportunities as their classmates who have not faced these obstacles,” Cummings said. “Instead, these students frequently abandon their goal of attending college because of the often long and complicated process of applying for student aid. This bill will help prevent our financial aid process from continuing to be an unintended barrier to higher education.” Cummings was joined in introducing the bill by MD Democrats Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes. The legislation would simplify the process to apply for and receive federal student financial aid for students who do not have contact with their parents. MD Democratic Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen will introduce companion legislation in the Senate. More here.