Better FAFSA 2024 revamp causing delays in financial aid, leaving in students in limbo and anxious

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
FAFSA revamp delays leave students worried about financial aid
The Better FAFSA 2024 revamp has left students, including many at UIC, in limbo and anxious as they wait to hear about financial aid for college.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Department of Education recently revamped the Free Application for Federal Aid, or FAFSA, and financial aid process, leaving some college students anxious about the coming school year.

The recent revamp has led to delays. Many students who rely on this process to get access to grants, scholarships and loans are now in a holding pattern.

"We are seeing chaos, to be perfectly honest," said University of Illinois Chicago's Vice Provost of Enrollment Management Kiely Fletcher.

Typically, most students find out in early March whether they will receive financial aid for college. But this year, many students are having difficulty filing those applications and therefore won't be able to make college decisions to due to glitches in the Department of Education's new Better FAFSA process.

"At this point there are 16 known issues with the Better FAFSA," Fletcher said. "Having that confusion and not being able to file is causing a lot of anxiety in Chicago right now."

She said that UIC is assisting students and giving them extra time to enroll.

"It's is a very high-need population here at UIC. We opted to move our decision to June first and keeping an eye on it to see if we need to move that further," she said.

The University has offered four FAFSA workshops so far, and will soon have online video updates.

This is the first year a social security number is not needed to apply for federal aid. This was supposed to make the process more equitable, but it has also caused some of the glitches.

"Many of our students at UIC, and their parents, don't have Social Security and currently can't file a FAFSA. Only 30% were able to successfully submit," Fletcher said.

UIC sophomore Irlanda Estrada is one of the 2,100 students who have had delays. Her parents don't have social security numbers.

"My family has been so scared because my mom is like, 'What if you won't be able to go to UIC anymore?' I applied to the Star Scholarship just in case I won't have enough money to go to UIC," she said.

The Department of Education said they didn't have anyone available to talk to the I-Team and pointed us to their website that says the Better FAFSA "provides a streamlined user experience," and that many "new students from low-income backgrounds will be eligible to receive Federal Pell Grants due to updates to student aid calculations."

UIC is one of only about 25 schools that aren't requiring commitments by May 1 due to the issues with FAFSA filings.

Check to see if the colleges you are applying to have pushed back their dates.

For help filing, you can try reaching out to the Department of Education by email at or call the FAFSA phone number at 800-4-FED-AID.