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Devils' Advocate

Expert shares advice on completing FAFSA

The Federal Student Aid website advertises changes to the FAFSA form.

This year, seniors applying for financial aid for college have faced challenges with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA. After significant changes to the form, the FAFSA has followed a highly anticipated “soft-launch” release starting on December 31st, 2023. As a result, the FAFSA has been experiencing high traffic volume and delayed processing times. 

As the Director of Outreach Services at the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA), Casi Benedict is responsible for training all college access professionals in Kentucky about the 2024-25 FAFSA and its changes. 

“The biggest changes are the look and feel of the form, as well as the process of how you file,” Benedict said. “Now, the student will start the FAFSA and invite their parent(s) to contribute information. It is a much more stream-lined, user-friendly, intuitive experience.”

Notably, the form was reduced from 108 questions to 46 questions. Because the FAFSA is now role-based, students and parents have separate sections to complete. Despite the simplification of the process, many students have encountered glitches or challenges when completing the FAFSA, especially concerning the delayed processing times.

“While eventually the new FAFSA will have improved processing times, in this year of transition, we will experience a much more delayed process,” Benedict said. “There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that had to be updated on the college/financial aid side. Because of that, students should expect a much more delayed process when waiting to hear from their colleges about aid notifications.”

Although students are facing a delayed process, Benedict anticipates higher education to be more forgiving during this time.

“My biggest advice to people experiencing any issues is just to be patient,” Benedict said. “Federal Student Aid, the state of KY, and the colleges you’re planning to attend all understand and are very aware of the issues occurring, so know that you will be given a lot of grace on deadlines and such. If the FAFSA seems to be experiencing glitches, it’s okay to save and go back later when the issues may be worked out.”

Benedict remains optimistic that the new changes will simplify the process of applying for federal financial aid in the years to come.

“While it may be experiencing some glitches currently due to the high traffic volume and significant changes, it is still a much easier form to complete and submit,” Benedict said. “I think we will see a much better and smoother process next year. Once the glitches and issues are worked out, I think you will all find a really simple process on the other side of it!”

With all of the changes this year, there are many resources available to students who need assistance in completing the FAFSA. KHEAA Outreach Counselors are available to walk students through the process and provide support with free college planning and financial aid assistance. To find out more information, visit the KHEAA website and social media pages for updates, information, and support. Additionally, students at HC can reach out to Ms. Cain, HC’s College and Career Readiness Coach for help. 

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Evelyn Dyer, Editor
Evelyn Dyer is a senior and an editor for the Devils' Advocate. In her free time, Evelyn enjoys reading, rewatching her favorite shows, and spending time with family.

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