Sen. Bennet behind push to simplify college student loan application process

(Photo: MGN Online)

(Photo: MGN Online)

DENVER — It can be a painful process to apply for college student loans.

The first form a family is required to fill out can take hours. It’s so daunting, many people simply give up.

But there is a push to simplify things, and make it much easier to apply for college loans.

The Auraria campus in downtown Denver serves more students than any other campus in Colorado. Eighty percent of the students there qualify for financial aid but only about 50 percent ask for it.

“Just looking at this, it’s kind of terrifying. It’s unbelievable how much I’m going to have to work to like pay everything,” says Hattie Dunton. She’s in the planning stage to apply for student loans for college next year.

“Since the rising cost of tuition and everything, we’re starting to realize that even though we keep saving every year it might not be enough,” says Hattie’s mom, Chris Dunton.

They’re like thousands of Colorado families trying to navigate the complex world of financial aid applications.

“It was only like the end of the semester where I finally got my aid and it turned out I was Pell eligible,” says Metro State University student Joshua Allard. “I could get my classes paid for but it was a very stressful process because I was going through a semester that wasn’t paid for.”

He’s one of the college students and staff telling U.S. Senator Michael Bennet stories of students who are turned away by financial red tape.

“The point of it all in the end is access … access to higher education,” Bennet says.

Specifically he wants to streamline the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid” form, or “FAFSA” as it’s known.

It’s currently 10 pages long and it asks families 108 questions. Bennet says the government really only needs answers to two questions:

  1. What is your family size?
  2. What was your household income two years ago?

It’s estimated last year alone 2 million students would have qualified for financial aid, but they didn’t fill out the FAFSA form.

Bennet says everyone he talks to including those in Washington say this change is way overdue. He hopes to have it done sometime in the coming year.