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FAFSA delays make it difficult for students to finalize college decisions

FAFSA delays make it difficult for students to finalize college decisions


Ashley Bolter, Delilah Brumer, Kelcie Lee, and Abbie Phillips
March 27, 2024
Waiting for college financial aid offers has been worrying for Kamila Juarez, a high school senior at Grace Davis High School in Modesto. The prolonged timeline of this process, caused by a delayed release of this year’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, has added to the uncertainty.
“It’s kind of stressful, just because I know that when I do know how much I get, it’s going to be pretty fast,” Juarez said. “So knowing that I have all this waiting time, I can’t really do much about it besides apply for scholarships and wait to hear back from those scholarships. It’s pretty suspenseful.”
The U.S. Department of Education launched a renewed version of FAFSA on Dec. 31, 2023 —  three months later than the usual release each Oct. 1 — because the new form was not ready to be rolled out on time. The new FAFSA was said to be simpler and more efficient for families to complete, with the intention of providing more students with aid due to a new formula.
With FAFSA’s availability issues, about 5.7 million students have successfully completed the application, compared to the average of 17 million applicants at this point in previous years. The compressed time schedule strained families applying for financial aid.
The Education Department’s deadline for getting student financial aid data to colleges and universities was last week, so schools are only now receiving that information. And on Friday, complications piled up, as the Education Department announced that a miscalculation in “the formula of the FAFSA resulted in incorrect financial need information for several hundred thousand students being sent to colleges and universities.”
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