The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

Matthew Gresham
The 2024-2025 FAFSA fast news from the Education Department.

What’s Up with the FAFSA delays?

Senior year can be expensive. Between graduation accessories (cap, gown, tassel), graduation announcements, senior trips, yearbooks, and other various fees, the prices can add up very quickly. The most expensive part of senior year, however, is often paying for college or trade school. While some students apply for scholarships or work-study programs, many others use the FAFSA.

FAFSA, which is short for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the federal government’s form of student aid. Yet time and time again, the FAFSA for the 2024-2025 school year has been constantly delayed. This has left students, including myself, wondering what is up with these FAFSA delays?

Let’s start off with one reason why the FAFSA could be delayed. In 2024, the Federal Government introduced a new form. The FAFSA website states, “The 2024–25 FAFSA form expands eligibility for federal student aid, including Pell Grants, and provides a streamlined user experience. An estimated 7.3 million students from low-income backgrounds will be eligible to receive Federal Pell Grants due to updates to student aid calculations. Plus, applicants will be able to skip as many as 26 questions, depending on their individual circumstances. Some applicants could answer as few as 18 questions, which could take less than 10 minutes.”

So that was the goal of the new FAFSA. But the reality has been something else entirely. As with most parts of government, introducing something new and getting it out to the public takes time. Usually the FAFSA is released to families at the beginning of October. Instead, the 2024-25 FAFSA did not get released until the end of December. That release, called a “soft launch” by the government, had problems of its own. According to the Associated Press, pages frequently glitched or closed altogether. Some students could not even open the form.

According to USNews, “Another delay occurred in February after the department had to update the tables used in the student aid index to account for inflation. The department originally failed to make that update on the new form, which was required in the bipartisan FAFSA Simplification Act of 2020 that led to an overhaul of the application.”

The result was yet another delay in students and their parents being able to see what kind of aid they could expect, and therefore, what college they could afford to go to.

Then things go even worse. On April 10, NBC News reported that the FAFSA could be further delayed until May due to “backlogging.” NBC also noted “Those forms are set to be reprocessed in coming weeks, and many will start being sent to schools by May 1.”

These constant delays are preventing some students from being able to commit to the school of their choice. USANews reports that “Delays in opening the FAFSA cause a domino effect: delays in millions of students and parents filing it, delays in processing it and sending students’ financial information to colleges, delays in colleges creating financial award packages and delays in students receiving award letters and deciding where or even if they will attend college.”

Meanwhile, colleges and universities have their own deadlines which are being affected by the FAFSA delays. Virginia State University, VMI, and Liberty University have enrollment deposits due May 1, and UVA and Virginia Tech are both due May 15. Depending on when the FAFSA actually comes out, students like my former roommate-to-be could have to give up on going to these schools because they cannot pay without the financial aid. Most colleges consider enrollment deposits as unrefundable. Will they have to make an exception due to FAFSA delays?

On a personal note, as of April 16, I still have not heard from the FAFSA how much aid I will receive. While I am still planning on going to Liberty University, the FAFSA delays have also affected my rooming situation for next year. I had met a guy who I wanted to be my roommate and we had made firm plans to do so. However, a few months ago he called to tell me that he’d realize he couldn’t afford Liberty, and he wouldn’t go unless the FAFSA came through with a good financial aid package. He finally had to bow out from attending Liberty due to the delay in financial answers, so I’m once again looking for a roommate.

It’s a shame that what should be the most exciting time of a young person’s life is being overshadowed by sheer government incompetence.

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