UW-Madison School of Education - In the Media

School of Education "In the Media"

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UW-Madison’s Bruecker speaks with Inside Higher Ed about new ‘myStudentAid’ app

October 05, 2018

Inside Higher Ed recently reported on the new “myStudentAid” mobile app that’s designed to help more applicants finish the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

And among the experts the digital media outlet used in putting this topic in perspective is UW-Madison’s Ellie Bruecker, a doctoral student with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

The news report begins: “Students seeking financial aid for college can encounter any number of obstacles to completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The application, which includes more than 100 questions, can be daunting, and students may need assistance answering even basic questions. And sometimes they just don’t have access to a computer to complete the application. College-access advocates hope a new mobile student aid app launched by the Education Department this week will remove one barrier to financial aid by allowing applicants to access the FAFSA on their smartphone.”

Inside Higher Ed goes on to note that a “new report released by the National College Access Network shows that students who need financial support the most to attend college continue to struggle the most with completing the application. The group examined completion rates at the school-district level and found that the greater the share of children living in poverty, the lower the FAFSA completion rate for graduating high school seniors.”

Bruecker tells Inside Higher Ed that she expects higher filing rates for the 2019-20 award cycle, which started Oct. 1. But, she explains, that’s because of ongoing efforts in local school districts and states like Louisiana, which last year began requiring all high school seniors to complete the application.

“I’d guess you’ll see some schools and their college counselors advertise the app as an easy way to complete the FAFSA, but I think that’s just part of the larger push to get more students to file and will likely happen in schools that are already making these efforts,” Bruecker is quoted as telling Inside Higher Ed for the report.

Bruecker adds that she doesn’t expect the mobile app to move the needle for FAFSA completion among low-income students and students of color -- those who are most in need of federal assistance. Low-income adults and black adults are slightly less likely to own a smartphone, according to Pew data. And Bruecker noted that the FAFSA mobile app so far is only available in English.

To learn much more, check out the entire report for free on this InsideHigherEd.com web page.

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