WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to support historically black and minority-serving colleges and universities and simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process for millions of students, the U.S. Senate today passed a bipartisan, amended measure known as the FUTURE Act.  Supported by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the FUTURE Act will make permanent $255 million in annual funding for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions.  The federal funds to support these institutions will be paid for by reducing administrative costs and enabling FAFSA applicants to permit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to directly share tax return data with the U.S. Department of Education.  As a result, this bipartisan bill streamlines federal student aid for more than 20 million students applying for aid, and nearly 8 million borrowers.

“This is a win-win that will both increase opportunities for students at HBCUs, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and other minority-serving institutions and help streamline the financial aid application process for millions of Americans,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.  “A good education is critical to success.  Despite being underfunded, these institutions provide tremendous, transformative value.  They are making a positive difference in communities all over the country and continue to educate, nurture, and produce countless leaders.  Passing this bipartisan measure is a long overdue step in the right direction.  This is a smart investment not just in the schools themselves, but in our economy and workforce, and one that will yield a significant return in both the near term and for future generations.”

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the changes would save taxpayers $2.8 billion over ten years, which will be used to pay for the permanent funding for HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions.

“I have long worked to help simplify FAFSA. Paying for college is daunting enough and the federal government should do all it can to reduce the paperwork and red tape to get tuition help.  This bipartisan initiative will enshrine needed changes to the FAFSA to make it simpler and more accessible, which, in turn, helps more deserving students access financial aid,” said Senator Reed, who hosts an annual student financial aid workshop to help college bound students and families learn first-hand from student aid experts about FAFSA and how to access available financial aid resources.  “This measure should also help reduce improper payments and eliminate paperwork for millions of students.”

The compromise version of the FUTURE Act was led by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Scott (R-SC), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Richard Burr (R-NC).

Now that it has passed the full U.S. Senate, the legislation must be reconciled with a different measure that was approved by the full U.S. House of Representatives in September.

SUMMARY: The Senate-passed FUTURE Act will:

  • Permanently reauthorize $255 million in annual mandatory funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority-Serving Institutions.
  • Includes key elements of the Faster Access to Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Act, which unanimously passed the U.S. Senate last year and which will:
  1.  Ensure students only have to give their tax information to the federal government once.
  2. Reduce the number of FAFSA questions: Students give permission to the U.S. Department of Education to request tax return data already given to the Internal Revenue Service, which reduces the 108 questions on the FAFSA by up to 22 questions.
  3. Reduce paperwork for the 7.7 million federal student loan borrowers currently on income-driven repayment plans by automating income recertification.
  4. Eliminate $6 billion in mistakes (both overpayments and underpayments) in Pell grants and student loans.
  5. Enable 7 million applicants who are currently unable to access their IRS data for their FAFSA to verify that they do not file taxes without requesting separate documentation from the IRS.