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The Hawks' Herald

The Student News Site of Roger Williams University

The Hawks' Herald

The Student News Site of Roger Williams University

The Hawks' Herald

FAFSA changes makes financial aid process difficult for students

Elizabeth Van Liew

The 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has gone through significant changes. Typically, the FAFSA is released on Oct. 1, however,  due to the changes being made to it, the 2024-2025 application was released on Dec. 31, 2023. 

Director of Financial Aid, Diane Usher said RWU typically sends out the financial aid awards to accepted students in mid December, however, the Department of Education announced in January that universities would be receiving FAFSA information in March, two months later than usual, so the Student Aid Index could properly account for inflation. 

Usher said the financial aid department anticipated receiving FAFSA information in early January, which would delay their process by two months, however, they were not able to receive the information that soon because the FAFSA was released Dec. 31, 2023. 

In anticipation of receiving the information later, the financial aid department utilized their CSS profile to send accepted students estimated financial aid packages. Additionally, the $25 fee required by the College Scholarship Service (CSS) profile was absorbed by RWU per administrative decision, said Usher. 

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Because they used the CSS profile, Usher said the department was still able to send out estimated financial aid packages to accepted students on Dec. 6, 2023, which was along the same timeline as previous years. However, new students who opted to not utilize the CSS profile, were only able to receive their financial aid packages once the FAFSA corrections were received by the university, being around April 8. 

Since the FAFSA corrections period opened on April 8, returning students may have had their financial aid award delayed by a week, as the financial aid department waits for students to be registered for the fall before releasing awards, said Usher.

However, on April 9, the Department of Education announced about 30%, or 2.1 million FAFSAs were affected by data or processing errors, said Usher. 

The errors affected the Institutional Student Information Records which are created when the Department of Education processes a student’s FAFSA, and are used by the student’s institution when determining their eligibility for financial aid awards and packages. 

Usher said the Department of Education began sending out corrected FAFSAs late during the week of April 14-20, and the financial aid department is still receiving them as of April 22. 

Due to the FAFSA challenges, students have not been able to get enough information as to their financial aid packages to various universities, including RWU. Because of this, many colleges have extended their deposit deadlines to June 1 to allow students to make an informed enrollment decision. RWU was one of the first universities to extend the deadline, according to Usher. 

Additionally, Usher said the Federal Student Aid hotline is not a helpful resource for students as the phone lines are typically busy, and is difficult for students to get through to get their questions answered. 

“This year has been very frustrating for families and the financial aid staff. It is already a difficult and overwhelming time for new students to get all of their admission applications submitted. The new FAFSA was supposed to be easier to use but technical glitches have made it anything but,” said Usher. 

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About the Contributors
Lily Neves
Lily Neves, News Editor
Lily has been the News Editor for the Hawks Herald since the Fall of 2023. She enjoys keeping the campus updated on the current events around campus. Lily is a Legal Studies and Political Science double major. Outside of the newsroom, Lily enjoys grabbing coffee with friends, working out, and watching sunsets.
Elizabeth Van Liew
Elizabeth Van Liew, Chief Designer
Lizzie is the Chief Designer of the Hawks' Herald. She is a Graphic Design major and plans to minor in Marketing. On campus she is also Secretary of the Design Club and works in the design lab as part of the Design Collective. For fun she enjoys reading stories, writing them and baking.

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