Financial aid office urges students to use FAF form, not new Illinois application

By Paul Wagner

NIU’s Student Financial Aid Office is urging students not to use Illinois’ new federal aid form with advertisements warning, “Do not file the new Illinois application. File the FAF…”

The new Illinois financial aid application is shorter than the FAF and is free, but it is not as simple, said NIU Financial Aid Director Jerry Augsburger.

The new form, called the Application for Federal and State Student Aid, is available from the Illinois State Scholarship Commission. Robert Clement, director of agency relations for the ISSC, said the new form replaces the federal free form and allows students to apply for both federal and state aid.

The Financial Aid Form required by NIU is an application supplied by the College Scholarship Service. Augsburger said this form also can be used to apply for federal and state aid. The decision on which form to use is not made in “an arbitrary manner,” he said, adding the decision is “made with thought and planning as to what form will help them (financial aid offices) do their job.” He said the schools should be able to make decisions unique to them and not be forced to use the new form.

Clement said the free form is used primarily at two-year schools. He said the ISSC would like more schools to become more form neutral, meaning they will accept all financial aid forms. He said the ISSC hopes more schools will accept the new form “as the system proves itself.” He said the ISSC would not force schools to accept the new form. “It was never our intent to use legal action to require schools to become more form neutral,” he said.

Augsburger disagreed with Clement, saying, “In my judgement, people in the financial aid community would not agree with that statement.” He said the financial aid community is feeling “rather abused” because of the confusion caused by the new form.

“There are more factors than free versus cost,” Augsburger said. College Scholarship Service has been processing FAF’s for a longer period than the ISSC, and the FAF provides “considerably more information,” he said.

Augsburger said free forms provide the minimum amount of information required by federal law. “Many schools like to have additional information.” He said another drawback to the new form is the information can be sent only to one school.

A number of suggestions have been addressed to the ISSC by financial aid administrators, Clement said. “We’re addressing these issues,” he said. The ISSC is looking at allowing the information to be sent to a second school for the 1988-89 school year.

Clement said the ISSC has been processing only the new forms for a few weeks. “We’re pleased so far, from a technical viewpoint,” he said.