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OPINION: Everything wrong with this year’s FAFSA

OPINION%3A+Everything+wrong+with+this+years+FAFSA
Kaitlyn Close

It is no secret that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid has many issues this year. The form had a rough launch, with it being opened to the public three months later than usual. Additionally, the form does not adjust for inflation when looking at a family’s income to determine financial aid eligibility. Failing to adjust for inflation makes it appear that students and their families have more income than they actually do, meaning students will qualify for less aid.

These are not the only issues with this year’s FAFSA. At the end of January, the U.S. Department of Education announced that they would not be sending students FAFSA data until mid-March, when the previous plan was to start sending the data in late January. Without FAFSA data, colleges cannot determine what financial aid students should receive. If schools are not receiving this data until mid-March, students and families will not get their financial aid offers until April, leaving less than a month before students are expected to commit to a college. This will disproportionately affect low-income students. 

While this is devastating news for many students and families, there are steps that colleges can take to mitigate the effects these drawbacks will have. App State needs to offer a supportive role amidst these problems and offer solutions to students wherever possible. Since these issues with FAFSA have arisen, many schools have decided to extend their May 1 commitment deadlines, and App State should follow suit. Considering that students will not receive information about their financial aid offers until at least April, this is a reasonable step to take. Students must have enough time to review all of their financial aid offers and talk with their support systems to come to a decision. With such a tight turnaround this year, having students decide by May 1 would put unnecessary stress on students and families, especially those from low-income and first-generation backgrounds. At least 60 colleges and universities have extended their deadlines, and App State should do the same. 

Furthermore, some colleges across the country have launched their own financial aid forms. Although these are not intended to replace the FAFSA, these forms serve as a tool to estimate financial aid awards for students. The operation of these forms varies between schools, with some colleges guaranteeing a portion of financial aid up to a certain amount, and other colleges just providing a breakdown of what students will likely be eligible for. App State does not need to guarantee financial aid offers to students right now, but it would be extremely helpful for the university to provide a financial aid breakdown of what students are eligible for. This would alleviate a lot of stress for students who rely on financial aid alone to receive education. Allowing students to view an estimate of what their financial aid may look like will give students additional time and space to come to a tentative decision with their families. 

Choosing where to go to college is a monumental decision for both students and families, and App State should be doing everything it can to provide support and services to alleviate stress during the FAFSA delay. 

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About the Contributors
El Shedrick, Opinion Writer
El Shedrick (they/them) is a junior psychology major from Cary NC. This is their second year writing for The Appalachian.
Pruett Norris, Multimedia Editor
Pruett Norris (he/him) is a senior double majoring in English with a concentration in Film Studies and Electronic Media/Broadcasting. This is his second year with The Appalachian.
Kaitlyn Close, Graphics Editor
Kaitlyn Close (she/her) is a senior Graphic Design major and Digital Marketing minor. This is her second year with The Appalachian.
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    Beth MarshFeb 27, 2024 at 9:21 am

    It’s also important to note that students whose parents do not have a social security number are not able to fill out the electronic version of the FAFSA and have been told to do the paper version of the FAFSA. These paper versions will be processed LAST. This will mean aid awards for these students will go out well after the May 1 decision deadline. This is really an unfortunate issue for so many students and one that isn’t receiving enough attention.

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