From his perch on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees taxes, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is championing a proposal to simplify the federal financial aid process by letting the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) share a student’s financial records with the U.S. Education Department.
Buchanan teamed up with U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, to bring out the the “Student Aid Simplification Act” towards the end of last week. This week, the Florida Republican showcased the proposal.
“Students currently must obtain their own tax information from the IRS and submit it to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Current law does not allow the IRS to share taxpayer data,” Buchanan’s office noted. “The Buchanan-Doggett bill would allow the Internal Revenue Service to provide that financial data to the Education Department on behalf of the student, simplifying the process and saving families time when completing their financial aid application.”
On Tuesday, Buchanan weighed in on the legislation.
“This legislation is a common-sense measure to simplify and streamline the student aid application, while also helping to reduce improper repayments as more precise records are conveyed,” Buchanan said. “I look forward to working with Congressman Doggett on this bipartisan initiative.”
“After a decade of seeking to streamline the financial aid process, I still find FAFSA too complicated, confusing, and underutilized,” Doggett, who introduced the bill, said. “Our bipartisan bill encourages better coordination between federal agencies so more students can apply for financial assistance by importing necessary financial information with one-click. We can simplify the application process while maintaining reasonable taxpayer privacy.”
The congressmen cites numbers from the National College Access Network which found that “90 percent of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA proceed directly to college, versus only 55 percent who don’t complete the FAFSA.”
Buchanan insisted the legislation he is backing would help change that.
“The Student Aid Simplification Act would also make it easier for borrowers on income-based repayment plans to pay their loans by simplifying their recertification process. Department of Education data shows that more than 55 percent of borrowers on income-based repayment plans fail to submit their paperwork on time, putting them at risk of default,” Buchanan’s office noted.
So far, Buchanan is the only cosponsor of the bill which was sent to the Ways and Means and the House Education and Labor Committees. There is no counterpart over in the U.S. Senate.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.