Less hope schools will process FAFSA forms in time as blunders continue

Continued botches have brought into question higher education leaders' confidence in the Department's ability to execute. 

Last week, the Department of Education announced its latest setback to this year’s mightily turbulent FAFSA season. The Department and the Federal Student Aid office have miscalculated the data of “several hundred thousand financial aid forms,” CNN reports. Consequently, fewer students will be ready come college decision day, May 1.

Even if students were ready, a letter sent by Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education (ACE), to Department Secretary Miguel Cardona on March 28 details how ill-equipped colleges and universities are. Of the 358 respondents surveyed by ACE, 67% said they had little to no confidence they’d successfully process forms in the coming weeks.

Continued botches have brought into question higher education leaders’ confidence in the Department’s ability to execute.

Aside from the extremely tight window financial aid offices are bound to face in April, ACE respondents also noted how difficult it’s been to receive timely communication from federal agencies. For example, institutions were asked to update an important mailbox that would help them obtain vital student information records. However, 20% are unsure or simply haven’t updated the mailbox due to technological errors or the fear of one occurring, a running theme plaguing students and families alike.

“It is our hope that you will take these institutional responses into consideration and continue to be as transparent as possible with the higher education community to allow us to make this process as smooth as possible for both current and incoming students,” wrote Mitchell.

The Department said students won’t be allowed to adjust errors they made on their FAFSA until mid-April, a mere two weeks before the decision deadline. Cardona has since written to state governors to persuade them to extend the financial aid deadline. Low-income students depending on financial aid to attend college are bound to suffer the most as the deadline comes nearer.

“I don’t know where I’m going to go because I don’t have the money to just decide to go to whatever school,” said Heron Williams, a high school student interviewed by PBS. “I’m in a spot where I don’t know how much it’s going to cost for me to go to college.”

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Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and first-generation journalism graduate from the University of Florida. His beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador and Brazil.

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