Changes to the federal student aid program will allow more than 23,000 students in Washington State to qualify for the maximum amount in Pell Grants.

U-S Senator Patty Murray led negotiations on the bill. She says it will mean fewer headaches over paperwork and more aid reaching more students.

“These are some straightforward changes, but they are going to make a huge difference for students,” Senator Murray said. “For years, a complicated, and cumbersome financial aid process has turned what should be a first step on the path to a higher education into the first stumbling block for too many students.”

Around 14,000 new students in Washington will be eligible for a Pell Grant maximum amount that was increased from $500 to $7,395.

Additionally, the student aid form, called FAFSA, has been simplified from 100 questions to as few as 20 for some students.

“Simplifying the FAFSA is a critical strategy to addressing post-secondary access in Washington. Nationally, students who complete a financial aid application are 84% more likely to enroll in postsecondary education and that rate is even higher for students from lower-income families,” said Becky Thompson, Director of Student Financial Assistance at the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC).

Other policies under the FAFSA Simplication Act include:

  • Restore Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated individuals, students who have been defrauded, and students with drug-related offenses;
  • Significantly expand who is eligible to receive Pell Grants and the maximum award; simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA);
  • Make the financial aid process easier to navigate for students experiencing homelessness and students formerly in foster care.
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