The Scituation

Scituate High School's student newspaper

The Scituation

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FAFSA: What is it? What do seniors need to know?

FAFSA: What is it? What do seniors need to know?

FAFSA has been a hot topic for high school seniors lately due to its “soft launch” on December 31st. This is a huge difference from last year when it was available in October. This change has impacted seniors and created more stress, but that’s not all–the platform has been experiencing some issues, contributing to even more anxiety among high school students across the country.

I decided to gather information from my guidance counselor to understand what FAFSA is and what seniors need to know before submitting their applications.

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid–in other words, financial aid for college. There has been lots of talk about the new and improved additions to the form this year. I wanted to learn more about this and the application process in hopes of providing useful information to help seniors get this application started. 

My SHS guidance counselor, Elicia Kelley, was more than happy to answer my questions:

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“What are the benefits of changing FAFSA forms?

Kelley replied that over 610,000 more students can now receive grants, which is much higher than last year. She said these grants will help students attend school without crushing debt weighing on their shoulders. Most importantly, she said this year’s FAFSA form is known to be much easier to fill out than previous forms! 

“What are the main differences between the old and new FAFSA forms?”

I found out there are fewer questions to fill out, and the questions are easier to understand on your own. 

How long will it take to fill out?”

Although the website says it will take about one hour, it might only take about 20-30 minutes. The time could vary depending on if you are filling it out individually or with parents/guardians, which is recommended.

“In what ways do you, as a counselor, help students apply for financial aid?”

I found out that all SHS counselors have a night when a representative from Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) comes and discusses financial aid, which has been known to be super helpful.

What are some common mistakes students and families make when filling out the FAFSA?”

Sometimes, applicants confuse parent information with student information. Other common mistakes include entering incorrect information that doesn’t match your FSA ID, incorrect tax information, or incorrect parent information. These mistakes could be costly, so triple-check all your information before submitting!  

“When is the deadline for FAFSA? What happens if a student misses the deadline?”

Your application must be submitted by 11:59 Central time on Sunday, June 30th, 2024. But for priority application views, you have to submit it by May 1st, 2024. If you miss the deadline, you are ineligible to submit this year’s FAFSA form. With that being said, get your FAFSA form in ASAP!

Update: On January 9th, 2024, it was reported that a mistake with this year’s FAFSA launch will impact The Class of 2024, potentially decreasing student aid for some students. Changing the forms to make it easier to fill out seems to have caused unexpected problems. 

If you would like to learn more, check out this report on NPR: