FAFSA Delays Cause Stress, Confusion for Students and Families

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Student working on computer

Delays in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process are causing some current college students and incoming freshmen to experience delays in receiving aid packages from higher education institutions. 

The issues started from an attempt by the federal government to streamline the process for filling out the FAFSA form. Under a major overhaul by the Biden administration, required by Congress, a new FAFSA application was released for 2024-2025.

For many families, college decisions are made based on financial aid packages offered by FAFSA and higher education institutions. To be eligible for federal grants and loans, such as the Pell Grant, Direct Subsidized Loans, and Direct Unsubsidized Loans offered by the U.S. Department of Education, each student must complete the FAFSA application. Higher education institutions also often use FAFSA applications to determine awards issued by their institution.

Under the new application process, low-income students are expected to have greater eligibility for financial assistance, like more opportunities to receive Pell Grants, while other applicants, like those with siblings also enrolled in college, may experience reduced benefits.

The initial launch of the new process resulted in a pause for website maintenance, and the official rollout was made available three months later than usual. Further glitches and a calculation error is resulting in hundreds of thousands of applications to be reprocessed. 

Overall, families are dealing with less time to complete the FAFSA form and delays in receiving their financial aid packages. 

A recent American Council on Education (ACE) survey finds that two-thirds of college officials doubt they can process a student’s FAFSA information within a few weeks. While most students are expected to make college decisions on May 1, many deadlines have been pushed back up to June 15. 

To keep families aware of changes, updates are available on the FAFSA website.