FAFSA delay causes stress for Illinois students making college decisions: 'It puts them in limbo'

Wednesday, July 10, 2024 10:09PM
FAFSA delay causes stress for students making college decisions
This year's FAFSA overhaul and delay has caused stress for Illinois students in college decisions and if they'll have financial aid to pay for school.

PALATINE, Ill. (WLS) -- Financial aid is a large factor in the decisions many students make about college.

This year's delay in rolling out the new federal financial aid forms has created a lot of issues for many families and schools, students told ABC7.

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Maricela Moss is in her second year at Harper College in Palatine. She relies on financial aid to pay for school, and she was unsure until recently whether she would be able to continue.

"We were biting our nails, wondering if we were gonna get any money because of all the changes we heard of," Moss said.

The federal government overhauled the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, form this year, delaying the rollout by several months. For this year's crop of high school graduates planning for college, a typically exciting time became much more stressful.

We have seen a number who are not going to file... some not going to school.
Kevin Towns, North Central College

Students normally fill out the FAFSA form in the fall and it helps determine what colleges they choose in the spring. The delay in rolling out the new forms has been stressful for students unsure of where or even if they can afford to go to college.

"In terms of our students, it puts them in limbo," Harper College Provost Ruth Williams said. "The FAFSA simplification was not so simple."

Completing the free application for federal student aid is a graduation requirement in Illinois, but the delay in rolling it out and the uncertainty has created difficult decisions for many.

"We have seen a number who are not going to file... some not going to school," said Kevin Towns with North Central College.

READ MORE | A new FAFSA problem could keep families waiting longer for financial aid awards

The uncertainty, however, has also left money on the table, and some colleges are finding they still have scholarship and financial aid money available. They said it's not too late to apply.

Austin Sobey, who counsels students at Schaumburg's Conant High School, said ultimately it may all work out for the better.

"I'm hopeful this will create opportunities for families that may not have known about opportunities for financial aid," Sobey said.

While the financial aid delays have created issues for many schools and students, they will need to be resolved quickly. The fall semester at many schools starts in mid-August.