The bill restores $255 million in annual funding that lapsed Sept. 30 after Congress failed to renew it. Facing an end to the funding, some schools had started planning for deep cuts, with some telling staff their jobs or programs would be eliminated.
But lawmakers in the Senate recently reached a bipartisan deal that saved the funding. Their compromise added an amendment that will simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, the form that college students fill out to determine their eligibility for financial aid.
The legislation will allow the Education Department to gather certain information directly from the IRS, which will eliminate up to 22 of the 108 questions on the form. It’s also meant to curb a verification process some families face to make sure they provided the same information to the IRS and to the Education Department.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate’s education committee, called the legislation a “Christmas present for college students and their families.”