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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

FAFSA issues impede 2024 admissions cycle

The+FAFSA+application+has+been+released+for+several+weeks+but+is+still+experiencing+glitches.
Photo by Emma Sylvester for The Lafayette
The FAFSA application has been released for several weeks but is still experiencing glitches.

The college has been forced to adjust its financial aid deadlines as students struggle to access the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known by its initials, FAFSA.

FAFSA notified students late last summer that the form would open in late December, rather than the usual Oct. 1 release. However, December saw only a soft launch of the FAFSA, frustrating millions nationwide. The form was only open during select, indeterminate hours, and many students found issues logging in. Only in the past two weeks has the FAFSA been available at all times of the day, but glitches remain.

“We asked that prospective students do their best to submit the FAFSA by the published financial aid deadline, which is Feburary 1,” said Shelby Maguire, the director of financial aid and director of financial wellness. “However, the FAFSA will not be required for an admissions application to be considered complete and ready to review.”

The application is “not holding prospective students from being able to be accepted by the admissions office or read by the admissions office,” added Maguire.

Notably, incoming students will still receive financial aid well before the May 1 deadline, regardless of FAFSA’s continued issues.

“They will still get a financial aid package, based on the CSS Profile and IDOC,” Maguire continued, in reference to the College Scholarship Service and the Institutional Documentation Service. “So, federal eligibility will not be confirmed until we receive a FAFSA, but their institutional eligibility we can confirm based on the CSS Profile in IDOC.”

The CSS Profile will be accepted until Feb. 15 and has not had any reported delays.

FAFSA has also been getting stuck in a processing phase, preventing students from correcting mistakes. It is possible that students may not be able to make the proper corrections until as late as March.

Despite the delays, the 2024-2025 cycle is the first to experience a redesign that axed dozens of questions in an effort to make the FAFSA shorter and simpler. Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act in December 2020.

The point of the law “was to eliminate a lot of questions and to make it easier for students and their parents to submit their respective pieces of information,” said Michelle Pretopapa the associate director of financial aid.

Another change on the FAFSA occurs when students file a tax return. If a student consents for the IRS to transmit tax information directly from the file to the FAFSA, the form does not show the questions. The only way to see the questions is to not provide consent and manually type that information in.

Students also now only have to answer demographic questions, considerably speeding up the process. Other changes include expanding Pell Grant eligibility and factoring the inflation rate into its calculations, according to Pretopapa.

For returning students, the financial aid deadline has been extended to April 1. Until then, the Office of Financial Aid will offer FAFSA completion assistance to both prospective and returning students. 

Maguire and Pretopapa both encouraged students to reach out for personal assistance while navigating any questions about the updated form. 

“Returning students will be able to set up appointments with Michelle Pretopapa and [assistant director of financial aid] Kristina Carver throughout the day from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. on February 8 and February 20,” Maguire said. “Students who are unable to make these specific days should feel free to reach out to the Office of Financial Aid to set up an appointment.”

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Emma Li, Staff News Writer
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Emma Sylvester, Photo Editor

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