2019 Government Innovation Awards
Expanding mobile access to student aid
As hard as it is to get into college, finding the money to pay for it can be just as tough. The Education Department’s Federal Student Aid office receives about 20 million applications for financial aid each year, representing about two-thirds of graduating high school seniors.
To streamline the complex process and make it more accessible to students and families, FSA created a mobile app for submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The data from the FAFSA form is shared with colleges and helps determine students’ eligibility for need-based loans, grants and work-study programs.
The myStudentAid app customizes the experience based on the user’s role — whether student, parent or preparer. Applicants can also switch seamlessly between the mobile app and the web-based application as they complete and submit a new application or a renewal FAFSA form.
The mobile app interfaces with a number of federal systems, including the IRS’ Data Retrieval Tool, which populates users’ FAFSA applications with information from their federal tax returns. Once a FAFSA form is completed, parents can use the app to transfer information to a FAFSA form for another child. The data can also be sent to financial aid applications in participating states.
The myStudentAid app was built using standard, open technologies and connects to a back-end environment hosted in a FedRAMP-approved cloud that provides initial validation of the mobile application and supports the transmission of the FAFSA data to FSA’s data center.
To date, myStudentAid is approaching 1 million downloads, bringing the Education Department closer to its goal of having all college-bound high school students complete the form.
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