The FAFSA Simplification Act was a bipartisan effort from Congress to streamline the application for students and parents nationwide and expand access to federal Pell Grants, so more students may receive financial assistance.

With a series of delays and technical issues, the Better FAFSA’s flaws are frustrating students, their families, college administrators, and school counselors. According to the National College Attainment Network, FAFSA submissions are about 30% down from this time last year. As the completion data is made available, the suspicion is that these numbers are even lower.

Florida has consistently been in the last five states for FAFSA completion over the past several years, leaving over $300 million in Pell Grants on the table every year. This is over $300 million that would directly go into the hands of Florida’s most underrepresented and low-income students. The impact is even greater when we consider that Florida has the second lowest tuition cost in the country, and depending on a student’s institutional choice, full tuition may be covered through the max Pell Grant.

With a history of low FAFSA completion rates, now paired with issues in the Better FAFSA implementation and rollout process, Florida students are gravely impacted. Students deserve a reliable financial aid process that adequately supports them in making decisions about their education after high school. However, this process is difficult, and even more so for first-generation students, many minority students, and others who do not know where to turn. The concern is that the roadblocks they are facing will cause them to renounce postsecondary education in general.

FAFSA delays and errors include:

  • The guidance for students from mixed status families and how they should apply was released after the FAFSA.
  • Students received multiple error codes upon submission, leaving them to research among multiple FSA resources to try to find out what they did wrong – though some of these error codes are not due to student’s inserting inaccurate information but rather on the internal government agency side.

FCAN knows the importance of filling out the FAFSA and the Pell Grant, the impact this financial aid can have on a students’ educational decisions. One of the main reasons students don’t attend postsecondary education is because of the cost of attendance.

Let’s continue to share FAFSA resources and support students who deserve access to education beyond high school.

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