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FAFSA Process Simplified: Granting Access to All


  • Currently, the FAFSA FastApp is still in the pre-alpha version. We plan to get the pilot for the web and Android-based smartphone app within 3-4 months (around August 2011).
    • Current Needs: What we have: Fun, passionate, enthusiastic MBA students interested in sustainable business and way to change the community, business ideas, and one developer. What we needs: PHP & MySQL Web developers Android and iPhone app developers
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    Our idea: For our sustainable business MBA class, we decide to build application for FAFSA.
    Our business plan will primarily focus on increasing access to Federal Student Aid for low-income young adults in the United States. Our plan is to simplify the student financial aid application process and increase accessibility by offering an alternative to apply for aid via a mobile phone and web application. Our primary focus will be to create a mobile application for the iPhone and Android operating systems. In addition, a web application will be created which can be accessed from most handheld video game systems such as the Nintendo DS, PSP etc. The web application will be a simplified version of the current application available on the FAFSA website. The applications will aim to create a more simplified and convenient method to apply for Federal Student Aid, especially for low-income young adults who do not have access to a computer.
    Because the present FAFSA process is tedious and time-consuming, we will develop a simple application that is easy to use, saves time and is easy to access. This will help increase the number of students who apply for aid. It will encourage students to finish the applications that they start. By creating a simplified application we will promote higher education in low-income communities in the United States. This will help the low-income population to leap frog the current technological barriers by accessing the application without having to purchase a computer. This will ensure wide-spread acceptance of the application process. Offering an easy-to-use web application and mobile application will help reduce the time spent on the application process, give clearer information around the process of applying for aid and provide an application that is accessible via different platforms. Our application will solve some of the biggest challenges faced by potential FAFSA applicants.
    We will integrate database information from government organizations such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This will simplify the application by removing many of the existing questions that require tax-related information. Once the applicant enters his or her social security number, the integrated database will automatically retrieve all the financial information needed for the application. There are four unique features of our application. First, our application offers consolidated information via a web portal that will give information on all types of aid including state-based and school-based financial aid. Secondly, the web-based application will offer convenience to both paper-based and online-based applicants. Third, our application will feature a short message service (SMS) integration that will allow users to submit the FAFSA by sending the required information in the form of text messages. In addition to the traditional e-mail communication, the applicants will be sent notifications via text message on their cell phones. Implementing text-message-based notifications is important because most low-income applicants are likely to have a mobile phone as opposed to a personal computer (PC) . Additionally, low-income applicants respond to phone call or text-message more often than e-mail . Access will be even greater for low-income applicants who use text messaging, which is typically less expensive than data or voice minutes. Fourth, the user will also be able to check the status of his or her application via a Smartphone.
    We are interested with this project because we believe that education should be offered to all individuals. In the words of Thomas Edison, “If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” The focus of our project is to give each individual in our target market the opportunity to reach his or her maximum potential through higher education. Creating the mobile application as an alternative to the existing FAFSA will have a widespread, positive impact on lives of millions of young, talented adults. Low-income applicants will be provided with easy accessibility to financial aid in a simplified format that will be widely available. This will result in straight-forward access to financial aid for millions of people who may have balked at the daunting task of completing the current application process.
    To sustain the project, we will organize our business as a Level 1 leveraged non-profit organization. We will leverage our open source technological platform to attract private sector market experience. In addition, we will leverage internal experience through volunteers who have completed the process and can provide valuable input.

    Our group consists of four members. We met during our sustainable business class on January 2011. Currently, we have only one developer for web and mobile development.


    Our team:
    Ernest Senopratomo, Developer – MBA candidate
    Andrew Armstrong, MBA candidate
    Sheetal Kapani, MBA candidate
    Katie Runkle, MBA candidate

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    Sometimes, little johnny, try as we might not to, we just need some extra divs. There there, dear, I know. I know.