Is the FAFSA Helping or Hurting College Admissions this Year?

Financial aid packages should’ve finally been available in March, but a recent setback caused hundreds of thousands of students’ futures to be at stake. It’s labeled ‘A Better 2024-25 FAFSA Form’ but is it really better… at all?

“As an incoming freshman, I was already nervous about the process of applying for aid. With the FAFSA coming out a couple months late, I filled it out the second it was available. However, with the website having multiple crashes and maintenance issues, it was very difficult,” senior Maha Nuha said.

Unfortunately, the earlier delays were not the only major issues with the FAFSA application this year. It seems that the “newly improved” application has only increased difficulty for students. 

“When my FAFSA was finally processed after 3 months, there was a glitch where it said I did not sign my FAFSA application and did not let me edit it until FAFSA made it available to edit. This made me very worried for the coming years of applying for aid,” senior Sabiqur Liza said.

Like Liza, students all around the country are questioning when they will receive their aid. The Department of Education found a calculation error on hundreds of thousands of aid applications, according to Williiam Brangham from PBS NewsHour. This is an even bigger inconvenience compared to the huge delay in processing. Enrollment deadlines are being changed, but many students may have to commit to a college without even knowing how much it will cost them. 

“I think that a lot of students feel disheartened by it and might ultimately just make a decision to go to a CUNY or something that’s less expensive because they don’t want to deal with financial aid,” College Counselor Maria Pappas said. 

With very minimal information on next steps, Pappas has made sure to do her part. She has been researching on her own time, as well as contacting other college administrators to figure out what can be done to make sure students and administrators are doing everything correctly. Unfortunately, not much can be done.

“It is a national issue so that made me at least feel better. I think a lot of it is going to depend unfortunately on leaning on the colleges giving students extra time to figure out where they want to enroll because at this point, there’s nothing that I can really do or that anyone in college admissions can do besides move deadlines,” Pappas said.

The already long awaited Decision Day to mark the end of senior year’s stress and worry has been delayed by a month due to all of the changes regarding college commitments. Seniors will now continue to anticipate their day of celebration until June 1st, when all of the stress should have been over much before then.

“That wasn’t really my decision, but May 1st is in a month and I haven’t really seen anyone get financial packages back yet. You need enough time to get the right packages, compare them to each other, and then make a good decision,” Pappas said. 

Despite all of the ridiculous delays and the strain that it has caused on students, families, counselors and administrators, the Edison community is so fortunate to have Ms. Pappas as our college counselor. Although she joined us on short notice earlier this year, she has been so helpful to the Class of 2024 and truly wants the best for students.

“I think it honestly made me realize that I really do care about this job because I’ve had to do a lot of research on my own time on the side and I feel like if I didn’t care about the process then I wouldn’t have done all of that,” Pappas said.

Not only are prospective college students having trouble with the actual application itself, but it is changing the trajectory of a lot of their college plans. They are refraining from attending a more pricey college, despite it usually being affordable due to the FAFSA. Without it, students are left conflicted on where to spend the next 4 years of their lives. 

“As a low income student, financial aid is crucial to be able to afford college. These complications have slowed down receiving my EOP aid package. It also makes me think twice about committing to a private college, since private colleges are very expensive,” Liza said. 

Mahirah Rahman

Hi! My name is Mahirah Rahman, and I write for the General News section here at Edison Light. I enjoy writing, especially when it comes to a flexible range of topics which is why this section is perfect for me! Other than that, I enjoy baking, making jewelry, scrapbooking, and I’m always looking to try something new or explore places I’ve never been to. That being said, I can’t wait to explore the news with you all!