A FAFSA Fiasco Has Students Still Asking: Which College Can They Afford?

By this time of year, college-bound high school seniors are usually celebrating their choices, researching dorms and even thinking of their majors. This year, that’s not necessarily the case.

Because of a disastrous rollout of the new application for federal tuition aid, many still don’t know how much tuition they would be paying and so have not decided where they can afford to go.

The Education Department’s redesigned form for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, was supposed to make applying for tuition aid easier and more accessible. But faced with a bureaucratic mess caused by technical meltdowns and severe delays in processing information and receiving aid packages, students say the new system has been anything but clear or streamlined.

The first signs of trouble began in December with the form’s release and have cascaded since, creating uncertainties for students — with graduation right around the corner.

“It’s been a nightmare from point A to point B,” said Reyna Atkinson, a 17-year-old from Michigan, who ultimately committed to Michigan State University after months of waiting.

FAFSA is a free, standardized application for federal aid for college tuition that millions rely on. Students fill out one form, with details on their background and household income, to request tuition information for the schools they list.

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