Changes to a common federal student aid application system are causing delays for students and families who, for now, don’t know if they’ll have the money for college.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the way most students access the funds to pay for higher education. Recent changes to the program were supposed to make the application process faster and easier in the long term. But now, the launch of these changes has caused delays in financial aid rollouts to families.
“If I don’t get that money soon, then the question that I‘m gonna be asking myself and what my parents are going to be concerned about is ‘How am I going to pay for college?’ My parents can only do so much for me and I can only work so hard for myself,” Bend High School senior Jose Perez said. “Although I’m being admitted to all these colleges, the question is ‘Will I even be able to apply or attend those colleges if I don’t receive that federal grant money?'”
The FAFSA application normally opens to everyone in early October. This past year, it was delayed until Dec. 31 and was only made available in a limited basis while the U.S. Department of Education worked on the new redesign.
The application still hasn’t been made available to everyone and colleges are affected nationwide.
College and Career Professional at Bend High School Theresa Quade says the delays have made some families question if they’ll have the funds by their enrollment deadline to send their kids to college.
“We’re going into February and the colleges haven’t even received their financial information from FAFSA yet. They aren’t able to put their financial aid packages together for students. So the students can’t determine whether or not they can accept their admittance letters from colleges. They can’t put their dorm deposits down, So it’s really just causing a lot of stress,” Quade said.
Fortunately, Jane Reynolds with OSU-Cascades says, colleges wont be penalizing students if FAFSA delays prevent them from in enrolling by their enrollment deadlines.
“Students and their families need time to figure out which college or university they’re going to attend and how they are going to pay for it. So if we get so far delayed we have to extend our deadline, I’m sure we’ll do that. We hope we don’t have to,” Reynolds said.
Schools are advising families to be patient with the program. It will eventually work out the glitches.