Much thought and discussion has been devoted to the need to simplify the FAFSA, and thus help economically disadvantaged students attend college. (The payoff for the complex form is that the federal financial aid process is one of the most progressive - giving preference to the economically disadvantaged - programs of the federal government.) Moving it from paper to online, besides its other advantages, freed the filer from the need for calculations, skipped over unneeded questions (as for example in the case that the student has no dependents), and checked and flagged obviously incorrect, or uncompleted required questions. It has been proposed to allow the FAFSA system to access the Internal Revenue Service's personal income tax databases, so as to import income and tax information directly onto the FAFSA. However, this apparently simple measure has been complicated to implement. Congressional action is needed for any major simplification, affecting policy. Students are encouraged to bring questions to their school's financial aid office or seek help from another resource at their high school such as a guidance counselor.

Also controversial, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid still includes a question pertaining to the possession of controlled substances despite the fact that penalties related to eligibility for individuals with convictions for possession of controlled substances were repealed in the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) of 2010.