Senator Jon Tester is pushing the U.S. Department of Education to make it easier for students to access financial aid so they can make better informed decisions about attending college.
Currently, students applying for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must report their family’s most recent tax filings to determine what aid they are eligible for.  However, the processing time for tax filings can take several weeks or even months, forcing many students to determine where to attend school without knowing their full financial aid eligibility.

“The short window provided for filing taxes before filling out the FAFSA places students and families in a difficult situation with few good options,” wrote Tester, a former teacher.  “Earlier and more accurate financial aid awards would allow students and families to make better-informed decisions about their educational careers.”

Tester, in a letter, urged Education Secretary Arne Duncan to allow students to use tax information from two years prior to enrollment when applying for aid through FAFSA.