AUSTIN, Texas — Austin ISD families attended a FAFSA sign up workshop Saturday to begin the often daunting task of filing for financial aid.

  • Rep. Lloyd Doggett was one of the hosts
  • FAFSA forms can be confusing
  • New bill would simplify FAFSA forms

The event was hosted by College Forward, the Austin Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett.

Akins High School senior, Jennifer Arriaga, began the process about a week ago. She was able to complete about half, but knew she would need the help of her parents, who are primarily Spanish speaking.

"It's very difficult. There are a bunch of questions you have to go through and then it's very hard to understand. Me being a senior, I don't know anything about tax returns, having to translate all this stuff back and forth," said Jennifer Arriaga.

Shandra Villanueva with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, was one of the volunteers helping students complete their forms. She helped pass a bill last legislative session that will require seniors to fill out a FAFSA form.

"It's really going to improve our college access rates going forward," said Villanueva.

AISD partnered with the Austin Chamber of Commerce in 2005 to help with the accessibility of resources for seniors going through the FAFSA process.

This step is often the first in determining how a student will pay for college. In 2010, only 29 percent of AISD seniors completed FAFSA. Last January, about 55 percent filled out the form.

In Villanueva's experience, the process can be confusing.

"There's just a lot of steps and questions. Sometimes it’s almost not clear if they are asking for a student's information or a parent's information and a lot of it is just the technical part of it," she said.

At the event, U.S. Rep. Doggett announced the Equitable Student Aid Access Act, a bill that he says will expand access to federal financial support and allows for more simplified FAFSA forms.

If you would like to attend a workshop event, visit