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Editorial: FAFSA, Too Complicated of a Process

So many jobs require more than a high school diploma and with the constant cost increase for college, financial aid is needed more than ever. Students and families are relying more and more on some form of financial aid. One way the government attempts to help is through grants and scholarships. The best way to apply is through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA application is important because there are applications for different many of aid. It determines your eligibility for aid. There are grants, work studies, student loans and other forms of aid which are all reliant on students completing the FAFSA form. 

However, the actual application is by no means simple. Your eligibility is dependent on your year in school, enrollment status, family’s contribution, tax information and the school you plan to or are currently attending. 

One of the most difficult parts of the application is the financial information. It is hard to keep track of dates because you are answering questions for the next academic year, 2023-2024, but with tax information from 2021. This can be difficult because income from 2021 might not be an accurate representation of current finances.

Some efforts have been made to make the application process faster and easier. Parents and guardians are able to share their IRS information and tax forms with the Department of Education through the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). However, at times the two websites do not link to each other and you’re forced to answer everything manually or they are not eligible to use the DRT. Even using the DRT does not enter all of the information.

It is also upsetting that aid is based on a parent or guardian’s financial status and income. Some people may be getting assistance from their family for college expenses, but that is not true for everyone. Basing aid off of someone who potentially isn’t assisting with college costs can be annoying.

Even after filling out the form, it can take weeks to get a response about how much aid you will receive or even if you answered a question wrong and need to make corrections. Either way, by the time you receive a response it is difficult to remember everything.

Despite the annoying and rather inconvenient process, it is important to complete the FAFSA form. Students can potentially receive grants or scholarships to help pay for college tuition. The submission date is nearing and it’s important to submit your application as soon as possible. If there are any questions try reaching out to USD’s financial aid office to find out if they have a solution.