New Nightmare FAFSA Forms Lead to Panic and Frustration

New federal financial aid forms that were supposed to simplify the application process are riddled with glitches, and could jeopardize college entry for millions of students.   

First, there was a delay in the new forms’ rollout. Then, there were problems with the form itself.

“Sometimes parents and students got to the end of the form, but the system would not let them create the account, saying there was an error but not explaining what it was,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “Some who didn’t finish the form on the first try or needed to correct a mistake were locked out.”

Students and parents have been turning to the U.S. Department of Education’s help line, only to find they can’t get through. Some of those who have gotten through have discovered that the office is staffed mostly with English-only speakers. That has left non-English speaking parents in the lurch.

It's having an impact. According to the Times, only 700,000 seniors nationwide had submitted Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications by late last month, compared to around 1.5 million during the same time period last year. Just 16.1% of California seniors had submitted FAFSA forms through Feb. 2, compared to 57% from that same date in 2023.

“This is just the biggest fiasco,” Downtown Magnets counselor Lynda McGee told the Times. “I’ve never seen anything in all the years I’ve been a counselor that even begins to compare to this level of dysfunction.”

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has acknowledged problems with the new system. He says the department is “determined to get this right.” More personnel, funding, and technology are being deployed. But will it come soon enough? 


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Thursday, March 28, 2024 - 09:07

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