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Students tackling new hurdles when seeking college financial aid.

1 min read
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TLDR:

  • Students applying for college financial aid are facing technical hurdles with the new FAFSA form.
  • Issues include system glitches, a formula error, delays in processing, and difficulty in reaching customer service.

Students like Tayler Monts are struggling with the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, encountering double negatives and system glitches that prevent completion and submission. The Department of Education has fixed some errors, but technical issues remain, causing fears that colleges won’t receive financial data in time for students to make informed decisions about their education. Vulnerable students, especially those depending on financial aid, are at risk of facing equity issues due to FAFSA difficulties.

Colleges and scholarship organizations depend on FAFSA data to determine financial awards, and delays in processing could limit scholarship opportunities for students. The mental health strain on students awaiting financial aid outcomes is significant, as their educational futures often hinge on this information. The Department of Education is implementing steps to expedite the financial aid application process, including an IRS data exchange to obtain income information from tax records. However, challenges remain in assisting applicants whose parents lack Social Security numbers.

Advocates like Wil Del Pilar fear that FAFSA obstacles could result in students delaying or forgoing college altogether, perpetuating educational disparities. The FAFSA Simplification Act in 2020 aimed to streamline the process, but funding shortages have hindered its implementation, leading to issues with the 2024-’25 FAFSA rollout. Lawmakers are urging the Education Department to address these issues promptly to ensure that students can access the financial aid they need to pursue higher education.

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