Senator Reports a “Bureaucratic Disaster” in America

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( – Senator Eric Schmitt from Missouri, a Republican, has raised concerns with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona regarding the apparent inefficiencies in processing federal college loan applications for American students. Schmitt’s grievances, detailed in a letter sent to Cardona on Wednesday, accuse the Department of Education of creating a “bureaucratic disaster” by failing to efficiently implement the newly streamlined Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), while allegedly giving preferential treatment to the applications of undocumented immigrants.

The FAFSA Simplification Act, passed in 2020, aimed to make the application process easier by reducing the number of questions from 108 to 38. However, Schmitt highlighted that the intended simplification has not materialized effectively; prospective students encountered accessibility issues with the form until December 2023, leading to substantial delays. Schmitt emphasized the seriousness of these delays, noting that colleges and universities only started receiving student data from completed applications by the end of March 2024. This tardiness pushes back the issuance of financial aid letters to April or May, past the decision deadlines of many universities, which often fall before mid-May.

The senator specifically pointed out the adverse effects of these delays in Missouri, referencing a report from Kansas City’s NPR station KCUR. The report criticized the simplified FAFSA rollout, which, instead of facilitating a smoother process, was plagued with glitches, delays, and confusing updates for families.

Schmitt’s primary concern, as expressed in his letter, is not just the administrative failures of the Department of Education or its “unnecessary and legally dubious loan bailout initiatives.” He is particularly troubled by what he perceives as the department’s prioritization of applications from families with undocumented members, alleging that the department has established “workarounds” and loopholes for these applications. According to Schmitt, this approach disadvantages American families relying on FAFSA for their educational funding, effectively putting them at the back of the queue.

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