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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

New FAFSA system criticized for delayed release and not adjusting for inflation

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After months of delays, the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form for the 2024-2025 academic year has been released, but it is not without its shortcomings.

On December 30, the Department of Education unveiled a streamlined FAFSA online form in what it called a “soft launch.” However, this version was available only for a brief period.

The updated version, dubbed the “Better FAFSA,” reduces the number of questions from the previous 103 to just 18, simplifying the process for students and parents. In the past, federal student aid was evaluated based on the “Expected Family Contribution (EFC)”, considering a family’s income, assets, and the number of children attending college. The new model, however, replaces EFC with a Student Aid Index (SAI) that calculates aid based on the federal poverty level, considering income, assets, and family size but not accounting for the number of siblings in college.

Criticism has arisen due to the late release of the FAFSA application form. The Department of Education acknowledged “several system errors ahead of the soft launch period” and is actively working to resolve them.

Furthermore, new FAFSA submissions won’t reach schools until the end of January, according to the department. Experts have expressed concerns, stating, “Students will not be able to access financial aid when they need it, and because the new form does not reflect recent inflation, many students will likely receive less aid than they deserve.”

BY JIHYE YOON, JUNHAN PARK    [yoon.jihye@koreadailyny.com]