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The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

Delays of redesigned FAFSA application impact seniors as they apply for financial aid

Completing+the+FAFSA+has+now+been+made+easier+for+incoming+seniors.
Erica Lee
Completing the FAFSA has now been made easier for incoming seniors.
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With the 2024-2025 college application process mostly done and seniors now awaiting decisions, many have begun focusing on the financial aspects of the admissions. This year, however, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application process has seen significant shifts and delays, leaving seniors stressed about financial aid decisions. FAFSA is a series of subsidized or unsubsidized loans from the federal government. 

During this application cycle, FAFSA underwent significant changes in order to “improve, streamline, and redesign how students and their families use the form,” according to the Federal Student Aid website from the United States Department of Education. These changes came at the cost of time: FAFSA was unavailable to most students until December 30th, and will not be processed—or available to many colleges—until mid-March. 

Guidance counselor Sara Skoda felt that these changes placed an immense burden on students’ families. She said that the initial delay “put a lot of pressure on people to get it done. Then there were significant issues technology-wise that the federal government’s release made with the application itself.” The Washington Post and NPR also reported that an error involving adjusting calculations for inflation has so far gone unfixed and could lead to students receiving less aid than they should qualify for unless it is changed. 

“Colleges are getting information late. Students will hear back from colleges and not have their packages,” Ms. Skoda said. With both decisions arriving at different times, the ultimate commitment day for most colleges—typically May 1st—may also be pushed back to June. “This is very different from anything I’ve seen before,” Ms. Skoda said.

Some students said that the new system was brief and simple to use. Senior Premavaashine Premathayalan said that though she was pleased with how short and simple the application itself was, there were still difficulties.  

“It took so long to fully access because of the soft launch period,” said Premavaashine. “Then I struggled to fill out the information because there were issues with the length of my name. Afterward, it was submitted before my mother could add her signature. Now I have to wait until after colleges receive the FAFSA to add the signature.” 

 Senior Lauren Xiao said that her FAFSA process went significantly smoother. “Luckily my mom had gone through this process already with my older sister so she knew what to expect and what to do, taking care of everything in a timely manner,” Lauren said. 

Beyond FAFSA or other kinds of major aid applications, students have been looking for outside scholarships, which are typically of lower amounts of aid but are simpler to apply to and complete. Senior Kayla Pair said that “the most accessible [scholarships] are the ones that guidance sends out.” These scholarships are available in the Class of 2024 Google Classroom. In addition, many students have found websites such as scholarships.com and the College Board increasingly valuable. 

Ms. Skoda said that she wanted to assure students that despite the issues with this year’s process, things will work out. “You will not be held accountable for anything. You won’t be denied anything. Even though it’s bumpy, colleges will make sure it’s right,” she said.

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