FAFSA fail creates “state of emergency” in West Virginia

College-bound West Virginia students can now qualify for the state’s largest financial aid programs without filling out the FAFSA application.

Instead of celebrating decision day on May 1, West Virginia’s colleges and universities are facing a state of emergency. The ongoing FAFSA fiasco that has left many students and admissions officers pulling their hair out drove West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice to take action on financial aid.

The state of emergency he declared Wednesday allows students to qualify for the state’s largest financial aid programs—including the Promise Scholarship and the Higher Education Grant Program—without filling out the FAFSA application.

High school FAFSA completion rates are currently down nearly 40% in West Virginia. “I don’t believe any other state in the nation has gone this far, but I simply cannot and will not stand by as money sits on the table that could be helping our students continue their education,” Justice, a Republican who is also running for U.S. Senate, said in his announcement.

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The declaration means students who qualify and apply for the Promise Scholarship will receive up to $5,500 for the 2024-25 academic year. Students who qualified for FAFSA last year will get a $3,400 Higher Education Grant for the fall semester.

“We know that the cost of going to college is one of the biggest hurdles West Virginia students already face when planning for education after high school, especially our low-income students,” Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s chancellor of higher education, added. “I encourage students to continue working to complete the FAFSA so that they can get as much money from other sources, including the federal government, as possible.”

Department of Education officials said this week that many of the problems have been fixed as the June 30 deadline approaches. So far, the department has received applications from about 8.4 million students, down from the 17 million application processed in an average year, The New York Times reported.

Education Secretary Miguel A. Cardona admitted in a Congressional hearing earlier this week that this year’s FAFSA form was “riddled with delays and challenges.” However, he expects everything to go smoothly when students begin filling out the 2024-2025 application, which should be available on Oct. 1, the Times added.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is the managing editor of University Business and a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for University Business, he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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