Parents and students facing the pile of paperwork needed to qualify for a student loan might soon be breathing a sigh of relief.

Beginning with the 2010-2011 academic year, the United States Department of Education will introduce a process to help simplify the student loan application process.

The Obama administration has requested Congress to enact legislation to delete more than half of the questions presently listed on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. In addition, the streamlined form will not require students to answer to answer questions that do not apply to them.

Currently, the FAFSA requires applications to answer more than 153 questions, and the form may take several hours – or more — to complete..

The number of FAFSA applications increased by 13 percent over the last year, and these figures are expected to continue to rise as the recession continues said Sheila Danzig, director of the online portal , said the USDE estimates as many as 1.5 million students would, in addition, be eligible to receive a Pell Grand each year if they completed the FAFSA.

Pell Grants are directly awarded to students who demonstrated significant financial need but have not yet completed their first bachelor’s degree program. The FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for the Pell Grant, but because of the complexity and length of the form, many students don’t even bother to apply.

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“Instead, overwhelmed by the difficulty of completing the forms, students often instead opt for private loans with higher interest rates,” she said.