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FAFSA confusion persists as new system rollout plagued with issues

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  • Staff Report 

The latest updates to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process have introduced significant challenges for students and educational institutions alike, as reported by schools and financial aid consultants. Following a 2020 mandate to simplify the application process, the U.S. Department of Education’s June 2023 initiative to reduce the FAFSA from 103 questions to just 20 has been marred by technical problems and delays. This month, an additional complication arose with an aid calculation error potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of families.

Education consultant Paul Celuch, co-owner of College Assistance Plus, described this year as unprecedented in over two decades of his experience. The disruptions have created widespread anxiety among students and schools, particularly as traditional decision deadlines like May 1 loom. Students are finding it difficult to make informed decisions without accurate financial aid information.

In response, institutions like St. John Fisher University and Fairport Central School District are extending their commitment deadlines to accommodate the uncertainty caused by the FAFSA issues. St. John Fisher has moved their deposit deadline to May 15, while Fairport High School has postponed its Decision Day event to May 23 to avoid conflict with exams, providing additional support and resources to students navigating the troubled FAFSA landscape.

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