FAFSA issues force hard choices: 44% of students said college decisions came down to $5,000 in aid

In an already difficult year for college applicants, when it came down to picking a school, there was one factor that outweighed all others: financial aid.

Even in ordinary years, choosing a college largely hinges on the amount of financial aid offered and the breakdown among grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities and student loans.

In 2024, however, ongoing issues with the new federal financial-aid application have heightened the role of aid in college choices. Because of problems with the new form, financial aid award letters were delayed and some high school seniors had trouble applying for any aid at all.

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