Maryland U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, with support from Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes and Elijah E. Cummings, have announced the introduction of the FAFSA Fairness Act of 2019.
The proposed legislation would ease the process to apply for and receive Federal Student Financial Aid for students who do not have contact with their parents or parental guardians.
U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen
“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.”
“We must make it easier for every student in America to apply for and receive financial assistance to make informed decisions about higher education,” Sarbanes said. “The FAFSA Fairness Act will ensure that any student – regardless of financial situation or family dynamics – can have the same ease of access to the FAFSA application process. I am proud to co-sponsor and reintroduce this bill.”
A key provision of the bill would permit students who do not have contact with their legal guardians, or who meet other criteria established by higher ed institutions, to fill out the FAFSA application as “provisionally independent” student, according to a release.
As of now, this group of students must undergo a “dependency override” at each school they apply to before they can be considered for financial aid.