FAFSA, application, students, deadline, aid

Families Of Incoming College Kids Are Fed Up With FAFSA Delay

With FAFSA still delaying financial aid packages, many students and families are refusing to submit deposits for schools until they know if they can afford it.

Around this time of year, families of incoming college freshmen should receive college acceptance letters with financial aid packages accompanying them. However, due to a delay in the FAFSA application rollout, parents and their students are forced to wait to see if they can afford their dream school.

ABC News detailed how the delay stemmed from the rollout of new forms for students to apply for financial aid, pushed to early January 2024. Typically, the FAFSA website releases the application around the fall. Still, the Department of Education’s decision to include new measures for its aid calculations for the upcoming school year prompted a late start.

As reported before, FAFSA’s biggest changes were the switch from the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to the Student Aid Index (SAI) and a shorter questionnaire to quicken the entire process. While the new forms were meant to benefit those applying to college by allowing more families to qualify for the maximum allotment of funding, its frequent technical bugs and later release have forced students to pause on proceeding with their school of choice.

Parents spoke to ABC News about their hesitation given the lack of financial information.

“We are not going to make a decision without knowing what we’re committing to financially; it would be irresponsible to do that,” said Jenny Nicholas, a mom to a high school senior in New Hampshire. 

Another parent of an incoming freshman, Agata James of Queens, New York, shared how things being “in limbo” has also stunted their decision-making,

“We can’t make a decision until we see a financial aid package. Everything is in limbo.”

Schools are also responding to the growing issue. Virginia Tech, for example, has pushed back its deposit deadline to May 15th amid the delay. In prior years, the deadline was May 1st, a month after colleges sent out acceptances for all applicants.

“Understandably so, families are concerned about the FAFSA process this year, and they are telling us that they need more time to make fully informed decisions,” expressed Juan Espinoza, interim vice provost for enrollment management at the university, in a statement.

With millions of students’ futures on the line, the Department of Education is aware of this current refusal by families to formally enroll in schools until the packages are released and is ensuring that the issue will be resolved soon.

We are determined to get this right,” stated Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. “We must, and we will.”