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  • Writer's pictureDr. Thom

FAFSA 2024 Update: What to do if you are still waiting on financial aid

If you are waiting to learn what kind of financial aid you may be receiving from colleges, here are our best tips on what can you do to.
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

If you want a surefire way to elicit a groan from the parent of a high school senior (or a current college student) just ask them how’s the FAFSA going? If you really want to see angst and frustration, ask a high school guidance counselor or college financial aid officer. 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) remains a cornerstone of the financial aid process and it has long held a reputation of being a pain to complete annually. As a result of the FAFSA Simplification Act, the FAFSA received a major streamlining this year, including changes to the application format, the removal of certain questions, streamlining the process for applicants. However, the rollout of this newest version of the form has been accompanied by delays and errors. The FAFSA did not become available until late December (it usually opens in October) and there have been repeated errors in the aid calculations. 

Despite the intent of making college more accessible, it is possible that these delays will make it harder for some prospective students to enroll, especially those who come from low-income backgrounds. According to data from the National College Attainment Network, FAFSA completions are down 40% through the end of March. 

For colleges, these delays have led to an inability to distribute aid packages in a timely manner, and in some cases, colleges have opted to postpone their deposit deadlines to provide families more time to make their enrollment decisions. 

If you are in this predicament, and are waiting to hear what kind of financial aid you may be receiving from colleges, here’s our best tips on what can you do to:

Make sure your student watches their email

As we have mentioned often, colleges will communicate with your student almost exclusively over email after they have applied or been admitted. In fact, if your student is telling you that they “have not heard anything” from a certain college, it might be in your interest to double check. In most cases, the email will be a simple prompt to log in to their student portal, which will provide more details. These portals will often inform you if documents are missing, provide updates on financial aid availability, and of course, let you know if you have received a financial aid offer. 

Research 3rd Party scholarship options

Encourage your child to explore all available financial aid options, including scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs. Websites like the College Board’s Big Future Scholarship Search, Going Merry, and college-specific financial aid pages can provide valuable information.

Attend financial aid and FAFSA workshops

Many colleges and community organizations host workshops to help families navigate the financial aid process. Attend these workshops to learn about FAFSA completion, scholarship opportunities, and financial literacy. Many of these opportunities are offered conveniently online

Communicate with college financial aid offices

Establishing open lines of communication with college financial aid offices can be beneficial. Reach out to ask questions about financial aid policies, deadlines, and available scholarships. Some colleges are extending the decision deadline, others are taking things on a case by case basis. Clear communication is your best approach.

Navigating the FAFSA and the financial aid process can seem daunting, especially this year, but with some planning and proactive communication, parents can help their high school students access the financial support they need to pursue their college aspirations.

Not working with us yet? Feeling stressed by the college search process?  Let's chat.

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