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The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

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How the FAFSA Delays Are Affecting Students Around the Country

River Nichols
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid has been delayed as a result of a faulty remodel, causing anxiety as students struggle to receive adequate financial aid while college decision day, May 15, looms nearer.

Every year until now, nearly every high school senior pursuing a higher education has made their commitment to a certain college by May 1.

However, this year students are filled with anxiety and stress about financial aid and where they are going to college, all due to the rollout of a financial aid process called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which has caused many colleges to push back their deadlines.

FAFSA is an application in which colleges receive a student’s information based on federal income tax, records of received child support, and their current balance of cash, savings, and checking, and with that give them a certain amount of financial aid. FAFSA has been run by the Department of Education since 1992, and has had little to no problems up until this year.

“This year they really messed up,” senior Andrew Keller said.

Congress mandated an update for FAFSA in 2020, and through several years of work to make the college application process much easier, the new FAFSA was born in an effort to make the 108 question form a simpler and more effective way to apply for financial aid. 

That being said, a system which was designed to have many benefits turned out to be complicated and flawed. Despite the hours of work that went into fixing the issue from the Department of Education and many schools, students applying to college this year were heavily impacted by the system’s glitches.

“This is going to affect a lot of students across the country in terms of going to college next year and not knowing how much it is going to cost them,” College Counselor Ms. Maddy Hanley said. 

During the last count of students filling out the form, it was seen that 8.4 million students have applied for FAFSA, compared to the average of 17.6 million students that filled out the form in previous years. With the closing of the form on June 30, the Department of Education is hopeful that more students will fill it out.

“The FAFSA has been a complete nightmare this year,” College Counselor Ms. Jen Brigham said. 

While FAFSA usually opens up on Oct. 1, this year it opened on Dec. 31, and when it did open there were many glitches making it so that some students were unable to put in their information. These glitches especially affected those whose parents did not have Social Security numbers. It was then discovered that the various glitches were not the only problem, but the equations used to give each student their estimated financial aid were incorrect, and were lacking proper determinations of interest and inflation. Because of this they had to re-update their calculators, which put a delay on the applications.

One of the reasons that this mistake was so detrimental is that many students of lower income households are not able to go to college without financial aid, so if colleges don’t offer them any money they are often forced into not attending. 

“I had to cross some schools out because it wouldn’t have worked,” senior Natalia Gonzalez said.

Along with that, the leader of the Department of Education expressed worries that students around the country are looking into getting an entry-level job straight out of high school, and might no longer seek higher education because they are not getting adequate information on student aid.

“It’s definitely stressful because they want to make a decision but they don’t have the information to make the decision,” Ms. Hanley said. 

Colleges are trying their best to help students through this time, but there is not much that they are able to do. “[Colleges are] pushing back decision day to possibly June or even after they graduate,” Ms. Hanley said. This way students have more time to receive financial aid and weigh out their options on where they want to go to college.

For students who prefer to go to schools further from home, it is increasingly difficult due to little financial support from the government. Students are forced to stop considering certain out-of-state schools because financial aid won’t be available in time. 

“Miami was one of my top choices,” Gonzalez said. “But the way FAFSA rolled out and all the errors that happened with that, they basically told us there wasn’t enough time to get more financial aid.”

With the change in the application also comes change in different factors being used to determine financial aid. According to Ms. Hanley, an important one is that the amount of siblings a student has in college is now not a factor that FAFSA uses. This change has angered many families throughout the country, and will affect how much aid a lot of students are receiving.

As the extended deadline is approaching on May 15, La Salle students are hoping they will have adequate information on where they will be attending for the 2024-2025 school year. “Many of our students have been well prepared to deal with these delays,” Ms. Brigham said. “But there still has been a lot more uncertainty.”

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