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FAFSA Delayed Yet Again, Negatively Impacting Prospective College Students

Data from the Federal Aid form will not be sent to colleges until mid-March, DOE says

The Department of Education announced last Tuesday, Jan. 30, that data from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has been delayed until mid-March. Following its late release date, this is the second major delay to impact the FAFSA this year, leaving prospective college students across the country in dismay. The recent delay also follows countless issues, including trouble submitting the form, errors with logging in and repeated questions, to name a few.

“When my mom tried to make an account, it wouldn’t let her continue to the next page of questions,” said Layla Parker, a senior currently applying for college. She is one of many across the country who has faced difficulty with the FAFSA’s “soft launch” on Dec. 31. 

“The government, legally, had to have this done by Dec. 31. So they did it by Dec. 31 and if they could have done it by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31 they would have,” said Jeff Rankin, Summit High School’s Future Center advisor. He stated that the FAFSA’s many issues were due to poor planning on the government’s part, which has resulted in multiple delays and persistent errors.

For many incoming college students, the FAFSA acts as a deciding factor for where they’ll attend the next year, providing a detailed and accurate financial aid package and outlining all the costs. Committing to a school without knowing the financial impact of said decision just isn’t feasible in many cases, so receiving a timely result from the FAFSA is vital.

However, with the delays, many schools will not be able to send out the financial aid packages in time with acceptance offers. Generally, the FAFSA becomes available on Oct. 1, allowing students several months to send in the form before early application dates (in late fall) and regular application dates (late winter/early spring). When students later receive their acceptances, these come along with financial aid packages. Most schools will have all of their offers sent out by April 1 at the latest, allowing students the entirety of the month to decide where they will attend before May 1, National Decision Day. 

This year, the entire FAFSA timeline has had a backward shift, beginning with its nearly three-month late release. Since data will not be available for schools until March, many schools will not be able to make the less-than-a-month turnaround time and send out financial aid offers before April 1. Recognizing that this could affect where students choose to attend, schools like Oregon State University and Lewis and Clark College have extended their tuition deposit and enrollment confirmation days from the standard May 1 until June 1 to compensate. 

Although the Department of Education has not released any more updates regarding the FAFSA, it’s very likely that it will face more issues and possible delays in the future. Until then, seniors can only hope that the delay will not severely detriment their applications.


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    Lina McDonald was born with a sword in her hand and a weight on her foot. Cue a sixteen-year training montage, complete with exploding volcanoes, murderous sharks and a shirtless Brad Pitt. You want to add an oxford comma? Don’t even run–because you’re not getting away in time. Lina can outrun a bear. Make sure to breathe evenly: even asthma can give you away.

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