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Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

    FAFSA delay causes frustration among applicants

    Amidst delays and errors, SSU’s Financial Aid Office urges students to keep calm and fill out the FAFSA form.
    Flickr+%7C+Courtesy+%0A%0AThe+update+to+the+Free+Application+for+Federal+Student+Aid+or+FAFSA+intended+to+make+it+easier+for+students+and+parents+to+access+financial+aid.+Instead%2C+this+new+launch+has+caused+delays+and+problems+for+some+students.+The+application+deadline+extended+to+May+2.+
    Flickr | Courtesy The update to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA intended to make it easier for students and parents to access financial aid. Instead, this new launch has caused delays and problems for some students. The application deadline extended to May 2.

    The update to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is intended to make it easier for students and parents to access financial aid. Instead, this new launch has caused delays and problems for some students. The application deadline extended to May 2.

    “It’s always been a long process, but at least in the past I could ensure that it had gone through,” a Sonoma State third-year business major said.  The STAR interviewed several students who have social security numbers, but their parents do not. They had trouble filling out the FAFSA and preferred not to use their full names.  “From my understanding, this issue only affected the students with parents who aren’t citizens and it’s pretty concerning that a system used to help students receive aid is excluding first-generation students who are typically the students needing the most financial aid.”

    On Dec. 31, the FASFA and CADDAA application was opened for the 2024-2025 academic year. According to the SSU Finacial Aid Office website, this is two months after its usual opening date. F. Shannon Little, the director of financial aid at SSU, said this delay affects all students dependent on financial aid.

    In the past, financial aid was granted to newly admitted students between the end of Feb. and the first of March. Continuing students would receive their award around April. Little says SSU hopes to have award offers by April 20, which is Seawolf Decision Day.

    The delays were caused by an update on the FASFA online application system, which was launched as part of the FASFA Simplification Act. This is the Department of Education’s attempt to make filling out the form easier and quicker to complete. The simplifications include the Student Aid Index, which replaces the Expected Family Contribution. This  new formula  calculates a student’s financial aid eligibility. This will allow more students to be eligible for larger Pell Grant awards and  the maximum Pell Grant award.

    The new update also removes some questions from the application, such as Selective Service registration and drug convictions. This new system adjusts the questions according to the individuals. It’s estimated that completing the application can take less than 10 minutes for some applicants. For students with parents that do not have a social security number, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators says that they will have to print, sign, and mail the FAFSA signature page to the Federal Student Aid Program’s PO box.

    Additionally, the SSU Financial Aid Office shared a document that contains a step-by-step guide on how to complete the application if students have parents who do not have a Social Security Number (SSN). According to the document, parents with no SSN will have to enter their financial information manually rather than having the webpage do it automatically.

    Some users may experience difficulties with the invitation process used by the system. If there is a mismatch between the information provided by students and the contributor’s account, the system will not make the connection. Furthermore, there will be an error if too many invitations have been sent from student to contributor.

    “I’ve been trying to finish the application for months now and I even went to get help with it because I thought I was doing something wrong,”  a second-year business student said. “I tried using both of my parents’ accounts, but neither one works and it doesn’t even let me add my dad.”

    According to Little, the SSU Admissions Office has extended its admission deposit deadline to June 1. California has extended the application deadline to May 2, according to the SSU FAFSA webpage,

    “I understand errors can occur on all websites but it seems really unprofessional that a government aid website would have such a giant error and not have a solution. It’s been months now and they’re barely coming up with a guide,” third-year business major said.

    “If a student needs financial help to attain their college degree, it is important that they complete the FAFSA or CADAA application by the priority deadline,”  Little said. “Please don’t be discouraged by the delays, keep calm and complete the FAFSA.” According to the National College Attainment Network as of Feb. 23, FAFSA filings were down 38 percent nationally and 46 percent in California. “As the deadline gets closer, we hope to see more Californians complete the FAFSA and close this gap,” Little said.

    “I feel lucky that I have scholarships saved up, so I should be fine for next fall but I can’t say the same for others,” third-year business major said. “It’s still stressful because I still don’t know if my application was processed and I will be needing financial aid later on.”

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    About the Contributor
    Ernesto Macias, Staff Writer
    Ernesto Macias is a third year communication studies major at Sonoma State.
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