As if paying for college isn’t already hard enough, it now looks like some schools are deliberately making it tougher for students to learn about and apply for aid that might be a big help to them. The Washington Post reported that a federal lawmaker is harshly criticizing some colleges.
A prominent House Democrat charged Monday that more than 100 colleges and universities, including some in the nation’s capital, are providing students with unclear or potentially misleading information about what forms they must submit to apply for federal financial aid.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, identified the schools, with excerpts from their Web sites, after a staff investigation that began last summer.
Cummings said federal law makes it clear that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, is the only form needed to apply for that kind of aid. A well-known example of federal aid is the Pell grant for students in financial need.
Often colleges require students to submit additional forms — which carry a fee — to qualify for grants from the institutions themselves or from other entities. But too often, Cummings said, universities fail to spell out clearly what is required for which type of aid. He said that failure can leave students with the false impression that FAFSA is not the only application needed for federal aid.