As students apply for colleges, covering tuition in full becomes a hurdle, pushing us to seek financial aid. Even while navigating this process, challenges arise, adding extra stress to students.
As we delve into the complexities of the financial aid system, it becomes evident that the issues with financial aid are not merely financial. The FAFSA (Free Application for Financial Aid) is a form that students in the United States fill out to determine their eligibility for financial aid for college. After a three-month delay, the 2024-2025 form had a “soft-launch” on December 30th.
The form was only available for 30 minutes the first two days, but it has since reopened at various times throughout the day. This new form contains changes under the FAFSA simplification act as it asks fewer questions, connects directly with the IRS, and employs a new algorithm that may have an impact on student financial aid.
Although these new changes were intended to make the financial assistance process easier for students and families, they have instead made it more complex and stressful.
Jamila Hussain, a senior, shared her frustrations with the FAFSA form, “Every time I checked within the last few days it was always during the maintenance time, very frustrating and stress inducing. Having to fill out the form itself was confusing at parts since I was doing it alone, the wording wasn’t clear and the timing when the FAFSA form was launched was terrible. It was on new years, what losers decided that?”
Other students at the school encountered similar issues and shared suggestions that could have improved the process.
Osiel Iglesias shared his thoughts on the application, “Apparently, I need my mother’s account to advance in the application, although some technical difficulties are delaying my application. It would’ve been nice that FAFSA allowed us to simply advance in the applications leaving some parts blank for later completion.”
While Some students feel lost in the application process, unsure how to navigate the issues and what to make of them.
“Staying up to date with the availability date, because when it first came out out it wasn’t working, then I saw something about it’s gonna start working soon, so I don’t know I’m just confused,” Kelly Joseph said.
The College Counselors faced greater pressure than the students, dealing with numerous questions from frustrated students and their families.
College counselor Iris Rosario expresses her frustrations with the recent FAFSA changes, “Prior to 2014, students would complete their FAFSA in march, then it changed and students started completing their form in October. Which is smart because you fill out all your financial aid information, you get accepted to the school in February or March, and then they send you their financial aid packages which gives you time to review. And now, with all their WISDOM, the federal government decided they were gonna change their form. And they were like oh no no! We got this! Don’t worry! In December, the new FAFSA will be out and its gonna be easier.”
Along with the families, the College Counselors were under pressure as a result of the delay and stress of not meeting the deadlines.
College counselor Maria Pappas, shares her frustration, “As a college counselor its worrisome for me because I don’t think the students will have enough time to submit their fafsa…they need to make an ultimate decision by late April to May 1st. Typically by this time, students would have a few decisions and financial aid letters and would be able to make a decision, so the longer they push this back, the more crunch time students and families will be on.”
Despite the challenges, the school has taken steps to address application issues, aiming to reduce stress for students and families.
Rosario assures families and students, “Thomas Edison was being active and we set up a parent FAFSA workshop, where the parents can request their FAFSA ID and we’re gonna help them fill it out, so it alleviates some of the stress. Most parents don’t know some of the changes that are gonna be done in FAFSA because they have never completed it before, but we know.”
Caption: The confusion and frustration surrounding the FAFSA application only contribute to the overall stress of college for everyone.