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### The FAFSA Panic: Why Students are Anxious This Year


The college admissions process is typically a stressful experience, but complications with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form have exacerbated the chaos this year.

The new FAFSA application, essential for students seeking eligibility for various loans, grants, and scholarships, has encountered challenges in accurately transmitting applicants’ information to schools. Consequently, many students remain in the dark about the forthcoming cost of college next year, posing a significant dilemma for high school seniors who must decide on enrollment by the traditional May 1 deadline.

Ordinarily, colleges furnish financial aid offers to students by the conclusion of March. However, as of this week, the majority of high school seniors are yet to receive any aid notifications. Kim Cook, the CEO of the National College Attainment Network, highlighted these issues during a session with lawmakers discussing the FAFSA problems this year.

The much-needed revamp of the FAFSA form, mandated by Congress, aimed to streamline the application process and potentially expand financial aid accessibility for more students. Despite these intentions, the form was only accessible to students and families in January, approximately three months later than usual, leading to additional complications and delays. Concerns have been raised that these challenges may deter some low-income students from pursuing college education this fall.

The narratives of three students shed light on how the FAFSA hurdles are impeding their college decisions:

Paying the deposit and ‘relying on faith’

Chase Cunningham

Seventeen-year-old Chase Cunningham, set to graduate from high school in mid-May, faces uncertainty regarding his college choice. Cunningham, drawn to Morehouse College in Atlanta for its historical significance and reputation, has paid a nonrefundable deposit to secure his spot despite not receiving any financial aid notifications from the five schools where he was accepted. The potential cost of attending Morehouse, a private institution, remains undetermined, complicating his decision-making process. Cunningham’s mother, Lisa Wilson, expressed her concerns about the financial ambiguity, emphasizing the faith they are placing in the decision-making process.

Choosing a roommate before getting a financial aid letter

Ellie Norvitch

Eighteen-year-old Ellie Norvitch, proactive in her college application process, faces a similar predicament. Despite applying early and securing acceptance letters from six colleges, including her top choice, the College of St. Scholastica, she is yet to receive any financial aid award letters. Uncertainty looms over the affordability of her preferred college, contingent on the pending financial aid information. Norvitch’s mother, Kelsey Norvitch, echoed the stress induced by the prolonged waiting period amid what should be an exciting time for the family.

Juggling moving deadlines

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith, a 24-year-old community college student, grapples with the repercussions of FAFSA processing delays. The inability to update her submitted FAFSA until mid-April has left her in limbo regarding her college choices, with two potential options likely excluded due to the lack of financial aid information. Smith, navigating the uncertainties as a transfer student, highlighted the challenges of making informed decisions without crucial financial details. Despite the setbacks, recent extensions for state scholarships in California offer a glimmer of relief for Smith, who continues to navigate the financial implications of her college choices.

The personal anecdotes of these students underscore the significant impact of FAFSA delays on their college plans, emphasizing the need for timely and efficient resolution of the ongoing challenges in the application process.