Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos highlighted the success of the Department of Education’s mobile applications during a speech on Tuesday, pointing to their convenience and ability to reach citizens in an effective manner.
“When it comes to FSA [Federal student aid], ‘rethink’ means asking what we need to do to ensure that the services we deliver are on par with those of world-class financial firms and world-class customer experiences,” said DeVos, speaking at the Federal Student Aid Training Conference.
She highlighted the myStudentAid app, one of the first steps of the Education Department’s NextGen modernization effort. The app has been downloaded nearly 250,000 times, and used to fill out 375,000 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms.
“We did what was alleged to be impossible: we made a government form look almost appealing!,” DeVos joked.
“Seriously, we did more than make it look good. And there were plenty of folks who declared it could not be done. They said the Department was ‘overpromising what it could deliver.’ That what was required was ‘overwhelming’ … the time frame was ‘impractically’ ambitious. Well … how many of you have it on your phone, too?” DeVos asked the audience, highlighting how the department proved the naysayers wrong.
However, the Education Department is not resting, and has turned its attention to an issue DeVos called “a crisis in higher education”–student debt.
“Today the app makes it easier for students to complete their FAFSA. In the near future, a student will be able to see how much he or she owes at any moment in time, what repayment options are available, and how those options will impact the total amount owed over time,” she said.
For DeVos, these modernization efforts are a key part of improving how government provides services to citizens.
“Repaying a student loan should not be complicated and it should not be frustrating. You can pay your car loan on your phone and manage your mortgage on an app. A student loan should be just as easy to handle,” she said.