Congressman John Sarbanes

Representing the 3rd District of Maryland

Sarbanes Joins Cummings, Cardin, Van Hollen and Ruppersberger to Introduce the FAFSA Fairness Act

Bill Will Improve Student Access to Federal Financial Aid
February 4, 2019
Contact: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) joined Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (all-D-Md.) to introduce the FAFSA Fairness Act, a bill to simplify the process for students to apply for and receive federal student financial aid.

The FAFSA Fairness Act’s key provision would allow students who do not have regular contact with their parents to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as “provisionally independent” students. Currently, these students must undergo a “dependency override” at each institution they apply to before they are able to be considered for financial aid. This time-consuming process creates barriers to college access for students with difficult personal and financial circumstances.

“We must make it easier for every student in America to apply for and receive financial assistance to make informed decisions about higher education,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “The FAFSA Fairness Act will ensure that any student – regardless of financial situation or family dynamics – can have the same ease of access to the FAFSA application process.  I want to thank Congressman Cummings for leading this important effort.  I am proud to co-sponsor and reintroduce this bill.”

“I firmly believe that all qualified students should be able to attend college and have access to the resources they need to succeed regardless of their financial or life circumstances,” said Congressman Cummings.  “Students who have escaped abusive homes, have been abandoned, have parents who are incarcerated, or who have other special circumstances that limit contact with their parents should have the same opportunities as their classmates who have not faced these obstacles. Instead, these students frequently abandon their goal of attending college because of the often long and complicated process of applying for student aid. This bill will help prevent our financial aid process from continuing to be an unintended barrier to higher education.”

“We want all students to have an opportunity to achieve their dream of earning a college degree,” said Senator Cardin. “Students that have faced difficult and abusive life circumstances that leave them unable to contact their parents should have the same chance as their peers to apply for federal student aid and make informed financial decisions and comparison shop for the highest quality, yet most affordable, option for college available to them. Team Maryland will continue to work together to eliminate obstacles that our most vulnerable students face when working towards their higher education goals.”

“Nobody should be denied the opportunity to attend college because they don’t have a big enough bank account,” said Senator Van Hollen. “As part of our effort to make college more accessible, we must streamline and reform the process for applying for student financial aid. The current financial aid application process is broken, and I’m proud to support this legislation to make it easier for students to make informed decisions about their academic futures. I will continue working with Team Maryland to provide every individual with the desire to go to college the opportunity to do so.”

“Team Maryland is working hard to not only increase financial aid, but make it easier to apply,” said Congressman Ruppersberger. “A student who may have left home due to an abusive environment or whose parents are incarcerated should not have to jump through extra hoops in order to achieve a quality education. I applaud Congressman Elijah Cummings as well as Senators Cardin and Van Hollen for their leadership on this issue and look forward to helping them get the FAFSA Fairness Act signed into law.”