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Our mission: to enlighten and to entertain

The Griffin

Our mission: to enlighten and to entertain

The Griffin

FAFSA rollout creates issues for seniors

FAFSA+rollout+creates+issues+for+seniors
Naomi Franzblau

On Dec. 30, 2023, the U.S. Department of Education soft-launched the modified Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA, currently open to students and families for short periods, created numerous problems for applicants, including Dulaney High School (DHS) seniors. 

Thousands of current and prospective students nationwide complete the FAFSA annually. FAFSA, released by the U.S. Department of Education, determines whether a student is eligible for federal financial aid. Furthermore, colleges utilize FAFSA in calculating their financial aid awards. 

In March 2023, the Department of Education announced a delay in FAFSA’s release as they altered it to adhere to the FAFSA Simplification Act and to expand the Pell Grant program, a program giving grants to underprivileged students with significant demonstrated need. The FAFSA Simplification Act brought comprehensive changes to the financial aid algorithms used and, in other changes, additionally shortened the FAFSA. Initially, the U.S. government aimed to release FAFSA by Dec. 1, 2023; however, logistical errors pushed the delay to the end of the month. The soft launch intends to allow the U.S. government to solve user-side errors in real time, but this process has not been smooth. 

DHS senior Lily Xu commented on lengthy wait times while she and her family worked on the FAFSA. 

“For a few days when [my father] was in his FAFSA account, it didn’t indicate that I had requested him to fill out his section, but there was a warning that the site was undergoing maintenance. So for a while, it was kind of [in] limbo where we couldn’t do anything,” said Xu.

Like Xu, many students nationwide reported similar issues with their accounts ranging from needing help to make an account or being locked out of the form because it was offline for maintenance. Reaching out to FAFSA support can lead to long wait times. 

DHS guidance department chair John Komosa discussed some potential reasons students may have difficulty completing FAFSA, such as IRS retrieval, where FAFSA verifies all input information from IRS records.

“If it works, [filling out the FAFSA] is a lot simpler…since it’s all there. You don’t have to go back and put stuff in and match lines,” said Komosa. 

Currently, there is no set date for when FAFSA will be up and running, with issues persisting over the next few weeks. Although this may concern many DHS students, as FAFSA for some schools is due as early as Feb. 1, Komosa assures this will not be an issue.

“I don’t see how any of the schools can be upset with anyone if they don’t have it in by the deadline,” said Komosa. 

For example, FAFSA is due by March 1 for the University of Maryland (UMD). While FAFSA is not first-come-first-serve, many schools, such as UMD, decide their financial aid awards on a first-come-first-serve basis. Because of this, having FAFSA submitted as soon as possible is imperative.  

Despite this, students and parents are frustrated with the rollout. 

“I’m overall dissatisfied with how the rollout went out since we received little information about when it would exactly be open. Hopefully, [FAFSA in future years] isn’t too bad since they have the system now,” said Xu.

The U.S. government originally planned to send FAFSA information to colleges beginning in late January. However, on Jan. 29, the Department of Education informed schools FAFSA will be sent out the first half of  March –  over a month later than expected.

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About the Contributor
Naomi Franzblau, Staff Writer
Senior Naomi Franzblau is a first-year staff writer who is excited to work on The Griffin. A professional procrastinator at heart, she’s always fond of a long nap, listening to (and looping) wide ranges of playlists and reading about current events.
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