The Student News Site of University of Central Missouri

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The Student News Site of University of Central Missouri

Muleskinner

The Student News Site of University of Central Missouri

Muleskinner

Department of Education delays FAFSA rollout

Federal changes cause delays in financial aid awards

  Due to recent delays in rolling out the 2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, students across the country are expected to experience delays in receiving financial aid awards for the upcoming academic year. Students express their uneasiness with the delays and worry about their ability to afford tuition for the upcoming semester at UCM.

  Tony Lubbers, Director of Student Financial Aid, explains the reason for the delay in FAFSA rollout. He explains delays are due to recent legislation passed in Congress with the aim of simplifying the FAFSA for students. The legislation failed to increase funding for the Department of Education to facilitate an updated rollout.

  “The reason for this delay, of course, was the passage of several laws by Congress calling for a simplified FAFSA, and an overhaul to the formula that calculates a student’s need,” Lubbers said. Many students rely on this aid to attend the university.

Graphic by Linda Alviar

 

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  Chris Lang, Assistant Vice Provost for Admissions, Analytics, and Financial Aid oversees the office of Student Financial Services and is responsible for campus communication regarding the FAFSA. “Last year, out of our incoming freshman class, over 40% of them were Pell [Grant] eligible. So a lot of our students rely on the aid that comes from the FAFSA to be able to afford to come to the university,” Lang said. Due to the recent changes to the form, there are opportunities for more students to qualify for federal aid for the upcoming year.

  “There’s going to be more Pell Grant recipients this year than there have been in the past. So we’ve been telling students that even if you file the FAFSA in the past, and you didn’t get anything from the FAFSA, go ahead and file again this year because the way that they’re calculating everything is completely different,” Lang said. He explains that Federal Student Aid is implementing an updated data retrieval tool that automatically transfers tax information from the IRS to FSA. This method is intended for further simplification of the process for students. 

  “So most students are seeing that they can file their FAFSA in less than 10 minutes now, as opposed to some students that could take half an hour to an hour to file their FAFSA,” Lang said. Despite the aims to simplify the process, there have been many issues with the rollout from the Department of Education.

  Traditionally, the form is available for students to complete on Oct. 1 for the following academic year. However, this year, because of the need to update the form, the FAFSA was not available until Dec. 31. “This will cause a three to four-month delay in getting awards out to students,” Lubbers said. According to the Department of Education’s FSA website, the FAFSA form was soft-launched in December. The form was available for several days, and it was closely monitored by FSA to ensure site performance. During this period, FSA responded in real-time to issues that impacted students’ ability to fill out the form. However, for some students, this delay is causing financial concerns for the upcoming school year. 

   “I’m honestly frustrated because in an attempt to make the FAFSA more accessible and easier to navigate, the Department of Ed’s rough handling of the rollout will probably lead to less students from low economic backgrounds like myself from being able to attend,” Jonathan Crispin, freshman, said. 

  The Office of Student Financial Aid recognizes the uncertainty experienced by students. “I would just implore students to please be patient. We’re doing everything we can to try to let them know as soon as possible.” Lubbers said.  

  The Office of Student Financial Aid encourages students to fill out the form but highlights the delay expected in delivering students their finalized financial aid awards for the upcoming year. “Right now our target date is to let everybody know their financial aid award by April 17,” Lubbers said. Additional communications regarding the updates on FAFSA timelines can be found on the Student Finacial Services webpage located at ucmo.edu/sfs.    

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About the Contributor
Linda Alviar, News Editor
Linda Alviar is a freshman at the University of Central Missouri with a major in communication studies and a minor in political science. As news editor, Alviar is responsible for the news section and the content within it. Alviar also covers the Student Government Association beat. In the future, Alviar plans to pursue a career in Journalism, specifically covering local politics. 

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