Congress made major changes to the FAFSA system in 2020 that were supposed to make the process easier.
After months of delays, FAFSA 2024/2025 opened.
Students were met with glitches and delays, causing widespread panic.
Schools are now taking action to help alleviate the stress.
(NewsReady.com) – Students and parents waited for months for the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) enrollment period to begin. Usually, students can apply for aid on October 1, but it was pushed back until the end of the year. More than a month later, millions of students are still in limbo, and the Department of Education is struggling to fix the problems that are leaving families in a panic.
What’s the Problem?
In 2020, Congress required the Department of Education to make changes to the aid application system. In theory, the overhaul was supposed to make the process easier for students and parents to apply for aid. It also expanded the program to make more students eligible for help to pay for college. You know what they say about the best-laid plans…
Right off the bat, there were problems with the system. Students were unable to apply for aid for the 2024–2025 school year in the fall as they typically do. The Department of Education moved the enrollment opening date back to December 31, 2023.
On December 31, students and parents across the country attempted to log onto the FAFSA website but were greeted with grayed-out buttons and a message that said the federal agency was staggering applications.
FAFSA launch hindered by technical glitches | Higher Ed Dive https://t.co/afUMXVoisz
— Allen Mendenhall (@allenmendenhall) January 4, 2024
Students who were able to start applications complained of glitches. People took to X, formerly Twitter, to complain about the problems.
As a parent of a student who is entering college next school year the #FAFSA is a disgrace how the system is run and operates. The roll out besides being delayed is nothing but glitches and frustration. Do better #usdepartmentofeducation
— David Zito (@DavidmZito76) January 5, 2024
applying for fafsa and suddenly the page glitches out on me and i have to redo the whole form pic.twitter.com/tNSAsGyDyZ
— dimitri . (@hyundoodle) February 7, 2024
On January 31, the Department of Education announced it wouldn’t start transmitting information to colleges and universities until March. That’s months later than normal.
The delays have left students scrambling. The financial aid application is not just used for Pell Grants; it’s also necessary for many need-based scholarships. Students and parents are concerned they are going to miss out on those scholarships, which will then impact what schools they choose.
To try to counter the problem, many colleges and universities around the nation have announced they are pushing back their commitment deadlines. According to The New York Times, at least 25 schools have said they won’t require students to commit by May 1. Some of the schools have created their own aid applications to award scholarships and grants to low-income students.
John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the schools facing the problem head-on. The university is asking students for their financial information directly so they can make offers before they get the FAFSA data. The school has promised students it will stand behind the grant and scholarship quotes it offers, even if the FAFSA data lowers them. The university’s vice president for enrollment management, Carolyn Noll Sorg, said the school decided it was “important not to sit on [information] and make [families] wait.”
Although some schools are delaying the process, the stress likely won’t subside for parents and students until the Department of Education fixes the problem.
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