To be honest, that blog post highlights, rather than solves, the FAFSA problem. For what should ostensibly be an easy step (essentially duplicating a form), this post uses almost four pages of text, four sub-headers, confusing acronyms (FSA? EFC?), and jumps in and out of paragraphs to graphs to tables back to text. Yes, the concept is great, but something that is user-friendly should not take this kind of explanation. (Also, the DoE's website could use a website, as all of the text on the right-side is mind-numbing and hard to follow...but I digress.)
As for the Better Make Room Initiative, what an awesome idea! A simple yet creative portal that helps build a college-going identity, a powerful catalyst for attending college.
As to your second part: I absolutely agree we need new frameworks for conceptualizing the higher ed experience, including that financial, operational, and legal models used to deliver education. My goal with this idea was to propose something that is easy to implement (i.e., specifically does not dramatically alter the dynamics of higher ed in the US), can have a massive impact (re: the thousands of low- and middle-income earners who never complete a FAFSA, let alone those would otherwise never consider college for cost reasons), and is cost-neutral (costing only the time of the redesign itself).
Although not a systemic change, small-step/high-impact efforts like redesigning the FAFSA can beautifully complement efforts like Hacking a Credential (e.g., using financial aid funds to design your own college-workforce pathway that includes MOOCs and bootcamps) and A New Financial Model for Higher Education (https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/future-of-highered/ideas).
Intriguing idea. I am particularly excited by how it can applied across industries, such as in the traditional pathways to MBAs, MDs, JDs, etc. I hear from colleagues who have pursued these degrees that they don't need to be as long (time-wise) as they are. Take the MBA. In a few months, you can quickly learn Business 101 (e.g., how to read a contract), develop contacts in the field, and learn the skills necessary to get and succeed in an entry-level job. What you don't need is 3 years of this before that entry-level job. Instead, under a subscription model, you finish your "degree" in 9 months, get a job, and 5 years down the road, you find yourself in a position to work on more advanced projects (say, business acquisition contracts). You reconnect with your school, take "Business Acquisition Contracts 101", and then you're off again.
This creates a feedback loop, between work (skills, responsibilities, project areas) and learning. What you learn advances your work, what you work on and what your exposed to in your work informs your learning decisions.
Great idea, great stuff, hope this helps contribute some food for thought.