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Changes in federal student aid raises concerns among students

Boston University students have expressed worry over the newly modified Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) released by the Department of Education in December 2023.

The 2024-2025 FAFSA form is part of a soft launch period intended to simplify the aid process for students and parents. However, many BU students argue the delay is not accounted for since the FAFSA application is still difficult to use.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website. The Department of Education released a modified FAFSA form in December 2023 in an attempt to simplify the aid process for students. SYDNEY ROTH/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

“It’s essentially a reformulation of the needs analysis being done by the Department of Education,” said Colin Riley, spokesperson for Boston University. “There have been some kinks to it, but I’m sure that they’ll get it resolved.”  

BU awards its financial aid through information provided by the Department of Education and FAFSA, according to Riley. They meet the full calculated need for all domestic students based on the Expected Family Contribution formula. 

According to Federal Student Aid, FAFSA results will be transmitted to schools starting in late January to help pay for school attendance between July 1, 2024, and June 30, 2025.

“It [the modified FAFSA form] didn’t really ask me as many questions as the first FAFSA, but it also didn’t give me answers to anything,” Josselin Pineda, a sophomore in the College of General Studies, said. “It just told me that it was gonna take my information and update me in a couple of weeks, which kind of freaks me out because I don’t know if I’ll get money for next semester.” 

The new plan intends to expand qualification for federal student aid, including Pell Grants, and provide a more straightforward user experience by reducing the number of questions, according to their website. 

While these modifications intend to simplify the aid process, many still believe the process is overly difficult.

“I think that anything related to financial aid has always been…just a little bit confusing,” Nora Bekkai, a sophomore in the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, said. “I made a mistake on the new FAFSA form, which shows that I still [don’t] understand how to fill out the FAFSA form.”

Pineda, in addition to being confused with the new form, is worried that the deficit of questions will impact her aid. 

Families also experienced issues, claiming they’ve experienced technical issues with logging into the website and submitting the completed form, according to Riley. 

The modified FAFSA shouldn’t affect the aid decisions of currently enrolled BU students, according to Riley.

“For current students, it won’t make much of a difference,” said Riley. “We generally send those award letters out in late June, so my guess is it will be around the same time frame.”

The availability of the form changed from its traditional opening in early October. Priority deadlines have also been changed for some students, moving from March 1 to April 1, according to Riley. FAFSA is expected to return to its original time frame in the future despite its delay this year. 

“Right now we just want people to be patient…the [Department of Education] is getting a handle on it,”said Riley. “There’s no guarantee until they receive the award letter, but we’ll be processing them as quickly as possible and we’re working on it every day.”

Without financial aid, Pineda expressed concern about a future at BU.

“I’m an independent student, so [without financial aid] I would most likely be working a lot to try and cover the costs,” Pineda said. “Or I wouldn’t be attending at all.”

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  1. thank you for this, bc my parents and i were so frustrated with the process!

  2. I too had issues with the new form. Thank you for reporting on this experience! Nice to know I’m not alone

  3. this is very helpful, I was very confused with the process.