FAFSA Audits and Minority Students

By Kaitlyn Perry

An analysis by the Washington Post found the federal government audits the FAFSA data of minority students much more often than they audit white students’ data. The FAFSA is, of course, the application college students must fill out every year in order to receive any type of aid from the federal government, and it is often required to be eligible for scholarships as well. Millions of students complete the FAFSA, and every year a percentage of those applications are chosen by the Department of Education for verification. The process is meant to reduce fraud and ensure the proper funds are being allocated. However, in the analysis of federal data, they found that there were certain demographics the verification process targeted. The government says it targets applicants that have the highest probability of producing errors on their application. Students who are eligible for Pell grants or have an EFC of $0 were also targeted more often than those with a higher family income. As a result of racial disparities in wealth and income, these targets are more often than not, Black and Latino students. This has resulted in mass amounts of stress in students who have to continuously prove to the federal government that they do in fact need the aid they are applying for, all while trying to keep up with the demands of college classes. It is yet another example of the systemic racism in the education system, specifically in higher education.

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