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Clock that indicates FAFSA delays.

The delayed opening of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has caused widespread frustration among students and parents alike. Initially set for October, the FAFSA didn’t launch until late December due to technical glitches and federal delays. Since then, it’s been plagued with issues, impacting colleges’ ability to receive FAFSA results until mid-March. This delay affects financial aid offers and pressures students to make college decisions within a shorter timeframe.

Disrupted FAFSA Submission Summary

One significant result of the delayed FAFSA is the disruption of the FAFSA Submission Summary (FSS) process. Students typically receive this summary a few days after submission, confirming receipt by the Department of Education. However, due to processing delays, students will find their FAFSA labeled “in review” until mid-March. This means they can’t make corrections or add colleges until processing is complete.

Impact on Financial Aid Offers and Decision Deadlines

Colleges rely on FAFSA results to determine students’ eligibility for financial aid, including grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans. Because results are delayed, colleges are unable to provide timely financial aid offers. Students may find themselves rushing to evaluate their options and make informed decisions by the typical May 1 college selection deadline. Recognizing the challenges posed by the FAFSA delays, some colleges have adjusted their deadlines to accommodate students facing this dilemma.

Staying Informed and Seeking Guidance

To navigate this changing situation, staying informed is crucial. Keep an eye on U.S. Department of Education updates, contact your college financial aid office, or contact EducationQuest for guidance. Also, watch your email and student portal for updates from your college so you don’t miss messages about actions that might be required to process your financial aid.

To stay apprised of the latest information, follow EducationQuest on Facebook, X, YouTube, and Instagram, and sign up for our brief weekly newsletter, Countdown2College.

In the meantime, also consider exploring alternative sources of financial aid, like scholarships, that can help bridge the gap while awaiting FAFSA results. Visit ScholarshipQuest, where you will find more than 2,000 Nebraska-based scholarships.

By Jeannine Phelan