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FAFSA’s late rollout delays deposit deadline

By Adam Levine

Editorial Staff


By Andrea O’Brien

Staff Writer


FSU’s deposit deadline has been pushed back from May 1 to June 1, along with that of many other colleges across the country, because of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) packet’s late rollout.


Typically, the FAFSA opens in October, but this year, the form was not available to complete until December 31, according to Iris Godes, dean of strategic enrollment management & chief enrollment officer. 


Godes said when the form is normally completed in October, it takes four to six weeks for FSU’s Financial Aid Office to set its system up and make sure everything is working correctly. They then start sending out financial aid notifications starting in December. 


This late rollout led to a backlog in applications, causing the Financial Aid Office to have only 300 of 4,800 FAFSA packages processed as of last Thursday, said Godes. These applications include new, undergraduate, and graduate students. 


Godes said they are prioritizing new students’ applications because they need to make their decision by June 1.


“I’m hopeful that the returning students won’t feel much of a difference, assuming we can catch up on those new students because as you can imagine, there’s a massive backlog,” she said.


Godes said one of the national concerns around this late rollout is “students got turned off from college and felt like ‘this is too hard and I’m just not going to go.’


“It’s too soon for us to know if that’s going to happen,” she said. 


So far, the University has sent out a little over 300 financial aid packages and they will continue to process as many applications as they can each week based on when they receive FAFSA information, Godes said.


She said 375 new students have enrolled as of May 1 and she is “surprised and thrilled we have that many.”


However, this is 20% lower than new student enrollment at this time last year. Godes said this is “meaningless,” though, considering students had to decide by May 1 last year, and now have until June 1 this year. 


She said the University is “encouraging” prospective students to wait to make their deposit until they receive their financial aid if it will impact their decision. 


Godes said the goal for total enrollment this year is 785 new first-year and transfer undergraduate students. However, this goal may be hard to achieve because of financial aid delays. 


The FAFSA application itself changed compared to previous years. 


There has been a significant reduction to the number of questions on the form, dropping from 108 to 36, said Shayna Eddy, associate dean of admissions and director of undergraduate admissions. 


She said this has reduced the amount of time it takes to complete the application as well as the number of confusing and complex questions, making the form easier to complete. 


Another change to the form is all students and contributors are required to give permission to access their tax data with the IRS, making it easier to obtain income information, Eddy said. 


In Massachusetts, the deadline to complete the FAFSA application has also been pushed back to July 1. Eddy said the impact of this change is more students will qualify for state-funded financial aid, such as the MASSGrant, as they will have more time to submit the FAFSA. 


“Hopefully, this will encourage students who may have decided not to apply to college this year, to take that step with the message that they have more time,” said Eddy. 


Caitlin Laurie, director of the Financial Aid Office, said the delayed FAFSA rollout has impacted the University’s ability to deliver financial aid in a timely manner.


She said the delay is “putting extra stress on staff and prospective students who are trying to make an important decision - arguably one of the most important decisions - about their future.


“In addition to negatively impacting students, it has been a huge administrative burden for staff,” Laurie added.


The office’s procedures have been updated and condensed to fit six months of work into two months, she said.


“We had to constantly stay informed - as information was always changing - disseminate the information to staff, and also be able to speak to students and families about these issues and answer their pressing questions, all while reassuring them they would receive the financial aid they were eligible for as soon as possible,” Laurie said.


She said approximately 25% of applications were rejected because the new questions were unclear and confusing, causing students to incorrectly answer them.


She said corrections were not available until the middle of April, even if the application was filled out as early as January.


Laurie said her office encouraged and helped students to file their FAFSAs with tabling events and other forms of outreach.


They have also been communicating with prospective and current students via email and text to notify them regarding their financial aid status, she said.


Sophomore Lucy Forgit said she filled out her FAFSA application in February and has not received her package yet.


Forgit said, “I've heard a lot of stories of people getting a lot less financial aid this year.”


She said the application was easier to fill out than last year. “That worries me because I feel like if they're giving you fewer questions, that means they're going to put less effort into it. I'm a little worried that there's not going to be as much money.”


Ethan White, a sophomore, said he filled out his FAFSA application the last day it was due and has not received his package yet.


“It hasn't affected me yet. I'm sure it will,” he said.


Freshman Autumn Bailey said she filled out the FAFSA and has not received her financial aid package yet.


She said it has not given her any anxiety about how it will affect her status as a student.


Freshman Miranda Allicon said she filled out the FAFSA and has also not received her financial aid package yet.


She said, “Honestly, with finals and everything, that's more anxiety right now for me than anything” to do with financial aid. 


Rileigh Kelley, a sophomore, said the updates with the FAFSA are “absolutely” giving her anxiety about her status as a student.


“I'm afraid I'm not going to get as much money to be able to go to school as I did before, and that will be really bad,” she said.


Freshman Robyn Goldman said he receives military financial aid via his father and it has become more difficult with the delayed FAFSA rollout.


He said he has been emailing “back and forth” to receive his financial aid package.


Freshman Glenmary Gracia said not knowing how much financial aid she will be receiving next year “gives me anxiety because I don’t want to do anything wrong and I’m also just unsure how much financial aid I’m going to get.”


Sophomore Olivia Cuccia said she believes the effect of FSU extending their deposit deadline from May 1 to June 1 “really just depends on the family receiving the financial aid.”


Sophomore Sarah Gubnitsky said she has not felt particularly affected by this issue, but thinks extending the deposit deadline “could help students make their decision to attend FSU, especially if they haven’t decided by May 1 for other schools.” 


Eddy said students who have not submitted their FAFSA for the 2024-25 academic year should do so as soon as possible. Anyone having any trouble with the application should contact the Financial Aid Office, which will be happy to assist them. 


“Our goal is to maximize all students’ eligibility for financial aid,” she said.

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