Dustin Sherer, Director of Government Affairs for the American Farm Bureau, says an important change to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid came in an omnibus bill passed at the end of 2023.

"It included a smaller bill called the FAFSA Simplification Act. The goal of the bill was to shorten the actual FAFSA form," Sherer said. "Previously, there was an exemption in place for families who owned farms or small businesses, so that there was no asset test when those kids were applying for financial aid. But, that change with the FAFSA Simplification Act got rid of the exemption."

Families with an adjusted gross income over $60,000 will be subject to the asset test. The change means it will cost farm families a lot more money to send their children to college.

"The example that's been given is for a farm that's valued at about a million dollars, under the old rules, that family would have been expected to pay about $7,600 towards the education under the old rules," Sherer said. "Under the new rules, that same family would be responsible for more than $41,000, which essentially would take you out of the Pell Grant and federal and state aid programs and force most people to take out student loans."

He says some members of Congress are taking steps to correct the error.

"There's been legislation introduced in both chambers to reinstate the exemption. In the House, Representatives Mann and Panetta have introduced HR 1250, The Family Farm and Small Business Exemption Act," Sherer said. "Identical legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Ernst and Tester. So, if you feel strongly about this issue, I would urge you to reach out to your elected officials and ask them to co-sponsor those bills."