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Concerns Raised Over Delayed FAFSA Rollout Impacting Farming Families

In a bipartisan effort, Iowa GOP Sen. Joni Ernst and 13 other senators, including Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, have addressed their concerns to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona regarding the delayed rollout of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The senators express worry that this delay is causing significant financial harm to students and families, particularly those with family farm and small business backgrounds.

The FAFSA Simplification Act, signed into law on December 27, 2020, aimed to streamline the financial aid application process. However, the Department of Education’s (Ed) recent incomplete and confusing ‘soft launch’ of the new form, coupled with delays in sending Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) to colleges, has raised serious concerns.

President Biden and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa (Getty Images)

One of the key issues highlighted in the senators’ letter is Question 22 on the FAFSA form, which requires students to report the net worth of their family’s businesses or for-profit agricultural operations. The senators argue that this oversimplifies the financial complexities of operating a farm, as the income from crops and livestock can vary significantly year-over-year.

The letter emphasizes that the reported assets, including the fair market value of land, buildings, livestock, unharvested crops, and machinery, may reach into the millions. This poses a challenge for farm families, as these assets cannot be easily converted to cash to support a loan, unlike traditional investments. The senators argue that the Department of Education lacked critical insight in developing this asset reporting requirement, especially given the projected declines in revenue for the agricultural sector in the upcoming harvest.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, kicks off her Roast and Ride event in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 3, 2023. The annual event helps to raise money for veteran charities and highlight Republican candidates and platforms. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The senators raise concerns about the impact on farming families’ ability to contribute to their children’s college tuition. Under the new formula, a family with a $60,000 annual income and $1 million in farming assets could see their annual contribution skyrocket from $7,626 to up to $41,056. Sen. Joni Ernst, emphasizing her personal experience as a farm kid and Pell Grant recipient, underscores the importance of federal student aid for rural students and vows to ensure their needs are not overlooked.

Miguel Cardona speaks during interview
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

The letter requests information on the Department of Education’s consultation with the farming community, the consideration of the regulation’s impact on families, and a detailed impact analysis throughout the 2024-2025 application process. The senators aim to address the challenges posed by the FAFSA rollout and ensure that rural students have equal access to higher education.

The Department of Education has not yet responded to the senators’ concerns. Ernst, along with Sen. Chuck Grassley, has pledged to work with the Department of Education to resolve issues in the new FAFSA, ensuring that prospective students have the financial information they need when choosing their college.

Source: Fox News – GOP senator demands answers from Biden admin on ‘confusing’ regulation that could crush farming families


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  • Shafeek Ahmad

    Meet Shafeek Ahmad, a dedicated news writer at HTBS News, with a passion for unearthing stories that matter. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to delivering accurate and engaging news, Shafeek is a trusted source of information. Bringing years of experience to the table, Shafeek's writing is a blend of expertise and storytelling. In an era of fast-paced news cycles, Shafeek's articles stand out for their precision and commitment to journalistic integrity.

Shafeek Ahmad
Shafeek Ahmadhttps://howtobeaspoonie.com
Meet Shafeek Ahmad, a dedicated news writer at HTBS News, with a passion for unearthing stories that matter. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to delivering accurate and engaging news, Shafeek is a trusted source of information. Bringing years of experience to the table, Shafeek's writing is a blend of expertise and storytelling. In an era of fast-paced news cycles, Shafeek's articles stand out for their precision and commitment to journalistic integrity.
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