Braintree High Student Press

The Student News Site of Braintree High School

Braintree High Student Press

Braintree High Student Press

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FAFSA Spoils College Decisions

FAFSA+Spoils+College+Decisions

Seniors at Braintree High School graduate on Saturday, June 1st. Want to know the crazy thing? Some colleges’ Deposit Deadline is the exact same day. What does this mean? Some seniors could make it through their graduation without knowing where they will attend college. 

There is one major reason for this: FAFSA. 

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it is one of the most important factors to consider when considering a college. Essentially, the FAFSA allows students to apply for federal loans, grants, and work-study funds to help them afford college all in one application.

This year, the Department of Education simplified the FAFSA form to fix a problem in how student aid is calculated to comply with legislation passed by Congress in 2020. Those who are in charge of FAFSA wanted to ensure that all students got their fair share of financial aid.  As a result, the FAFSA has been delayed.

What usually gives students a response in January is now pushed back until mid-March. This is only the first batch of responses from FAFSA, some people may not hear back until April or May.

This delay has caused many students to push back their decision making on a college. Keira Casey, a senior at BHS, hasn’t picked her home for the next four years yet: “it’s about how much money they’re going to be able to give me, and how much it’s gonna cost in total.”

She had hoped to “plan out how much money I’m going to get back from each of them,” but with the recent FAFSA delay, she now has to wait to hear about how much each school will truly cost. 

Other students feel similarly to Casey; Ashlyn Hough said that her decision “has to do with how much [she is] going to get through financial aid,” she explained that “since all that got pushed back, my choice is getting pushed back.”

The FAFSA not only affects the students and their decisions, but it affects their parents as well. Hough’s parents were both born in Ireland, neither of them have ever experienced college in America; thus, both of her parents didn’t understand the college process, and the FAFSA made it worse:

“My mom went to nursing school in London, so she doesn’t understand what I have to do now, so it’s just a lot of stress and confusion and we don’t really have any examples to go on.”

Other Braintree High parents reached out with their concerns as well. One concerned parent said that the FAFSA process was not user-friendly. Though they believe the process could have been easier, this parent expressed that “I just think that they could have had directions within the actual FAFSA form of filling it out.” It was so hard that this parent “ended up having to google a lot of things.”

Keira Casey and Morgan Canney, struggled so much filling out the FAFSA that they ended up having their mothers help them fill it out. Ashlyn Hough on the other hand, did the whole thing herself. 

The FAFSA also requires all students filling it out to input their tax forms from previous years, a request that many students struggle to accomplish. Hough says that one of her biggest difficulties filling out the FAFSA was “getting the tax forms from 2022 which was a struggle.”

FAFSA can be hard for students to fill out, and this can lead to stress. High school seniors already have a lot of stress about the whole college process in general, adding the FAFSA, filling it out, and waiting for a delayed response, adds on some more. 

Casey has definitely been feeling the stress of the college admissions process. To her, the FAFSA delay is “just an extra stress factor we just don’t need, and it makes our decision window a lot smaller, which is a lot more stress added. Yeah, it sucks.”

Hough, as the oldest in a family headed by two immigrants, had a different perspective on the FAFSA’s decision being delayed: 

“I think it’s a lot of stress to have to decide what you’re going to do with the rest of your life, at 17 and 18, and especially if you’re the first kid in your family.”

Yes, the seniors actually making the decisions are stressed, but so are their parents. One BHS parent believes that the timing of FAFSA is stressful. “All this work is usually done in October and you know you have your answer by December typically,” they state. This parent also feels stressed by the fact that students “this year still don’t have our answers, and they’re saying we’re not going to get our answers, you know the packages back until middle of April, and you’re supposed to turn around and make a decision in two weeks now. So I find that a little stressful.”

FAFSA affects all people involved in the college decision process, so this delay is really throwing a wrench in seniors’ plans. 

The college decision process is a long, and potentially treacherous journey. For those considering college, heed Morgan Canney’s advice:

“I should have done more junior year but for people who have to go through it, I just say you know start thinking about it junior year, sophomore year if you wanna go on a couple tours, that’s cool too. I definitely think you need to start worrying about it junior year.”

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