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Accessing and Completing the 2024-2025 FAFSA Application: Implications for Students and Families

As the 2024-2025 Financial Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opened, there were significant changes to the application that should make it easier to apply. The application usually opens in October, but due to several issues within the system and the website, parents and students were unable to have access. President of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators Justin Draeger said, “Even by soft-launch standards, this weekend’s rollout was challenging and students, families and financial aid administrators who have been waiting for this release for months are understandably frustrated.” 


About 17 million students fill out the application yearly to determine if they are eligible for financial aid from the federal government to pay for college. Since the update caused glitching or freezing, families and students were unable to apply in time, leading to getting their offers later than expected. The financial aid process is simple—you open the website, upload the student’s or parents’ financial information and send it to the preferred school. Other opportunities like federal loans or work-study could help the individual. 


The Department of Education announced the “soft” launch in late December. After continuous attempts, students claimed that the website would not even load. According to the department website, “During the soft launch, the FAFSA form will be available to students and families periodically while we monitor site performance and form functionality.” However, individuals with immigrant parents should plan accordingly as it takes 15 days to verify someone's identity. Since undocumented individuals don’t have access to social security, there’s no way to identify the person. 


In California, for individuals within Cal State or the University of California, there’s a “grace period”—individuals have till March 1 to be eligible on a first-come, first-served basis and receive all the benefits of Cal-state grants. With the recent changes in the application process, individuals are struggling to access the form which may affect their ability to send the form in time, decreasing their chance of getting a solid financial package. 


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