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A ‘simpler’ FAFSA

Initially+becoming+available+on+Dec.+31%2C+the+2024+FASFA+form+has+been+met+with+many+issues.++
Iziah Moreno
Initially becoming available on Dec. 31, the 2024 FASFA form has been met with many issues.

Families across the border are filling out their 2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form for their upcoming semesters of college.  

Families say numerous bills accumulate quickly from school, like books, transportation, tuition, etc., so filling out FAFSA is essential for several low-income college students. The U.S Department of Education advertised ‘A Better 24-25 FAFSA form’, yet there is still unclear information surrounding this year’s FAFSA. 

For example, there was no clear date for when the new form would open. While students usually have their schedule cleared for the original date Oct. 1, 2023, Forbes said the U.S Department of Education would open FAFSA “sometime in December 2023”.  

On Dec. 30, the website gave a ‘soft launch’ of the improved form, opening for only thirty minutes, only allowing a few students to complete the form.  

Currently, the FAFSA form is still not completely available with the form opening for only a period of time.  

Another notable change is the questions being cut from 118 to 36.  

With only a few students being able to fill it out, there is still little information on what these changes entail. Several news stations such as CNBC and Valley Central are headlining these changes with comments about how FAFSA is straining and frustrating families and colleges.  

UTEP’s Vice President for Enrollment Management Dr. Amanda Vasquez-Vicario mentions how the 2024-2025 FAFSA was intended to do the opposite. 

“The changes to 2024-2025 FAFSA are the culmination of several years of planning,” Dr. Vasquez-Vicario said. “That resulted from a legislative mandate at the federal level that was supposed to simplify the application.” 

Dr. Vasquez-Vicario says she has heard anecdotes from families reporting both positive and negative things about FAFSA.  

“We’ve heard various feedback from families. Some families had difficulty just getting into the application because when it opened, there were so many families trying to access the application,” Dr. Vasquez-Vicario said. “The Federal Government was trying to address any issues found with the new application, so they would bring down the site (as well).”  

On the positive side, Dr. Vasquez-Vicario mentions that families have also said good things about the FASFA form.  

“We heard from families that were able to get into the application, and they found it to be a lot easier than the previous application,” Dr. Vasquez-Vicario said. 

Because of the late release of the form, officials have cooperated and pushed back several deadlines.  When FAFSA was originally released Oct. 1, the priority deadline for the Texas Grant program was Jan. 15. Dr. Vasquez-Vicario mentions that this deadline was moved to March 15, allowing time for students to fill it out.  

“The state of Texas actually moved that deadline when we knew that the release of the FAFSA was going to be delayed,” Dr. Vasquez-Vicario said. “The state of Texas changed it to March 15 and UTEP follows that as our priority deadline for state grants. 

Biological science major Kutaiebah Soueidan is filling out the form for a third year.   The money he received from FAFSA is used to cover his tuition and uses the leftover money for books and other expenses. When first attempting to access the form in early January, Soueidan said he had trouble accessing the form.  

“I tried getting in, but the website was down, it was the ‘soft launch’ period, so I wasn’t able to get in,” Soueidan said. “(But) I did my part, (and) I’m waiting for the parent part.” 

Soueidan mentions that the difference this year in the new form, is the parent portion. Previous years have allowed parents and student to fill it out on the same page, but now it is separate. 

“It was less steps, but instead of filing it with your parent this time you have to wait on them so that was a disadvantage, but it was easier as a student to do FAFSA,” Soueidan said. 

Dr. Vasquez-Vicario wants to remind students that the office of student financial aid is willing to help students with any questions they have, and not to rush to complete the form, as there is still plenty of time available. Their contact information is [email protected] and is located in the Mike Loya Academic Services Building, Room 204. 

“We are not encouraging students to rush to fill out the FAFSA, one of the reasons we are not because we are still very high volume, and so they may still experience those waiting rooms,” Dr. Vasquez-Vicario said. “We still have several weeks between now and March 15, where we hit that priority deadline.” 

Towards the end of January, students that submitted their FAFSA will begin to receive financial aid packages from the office of student financial aid to help plan their academic finances for the 2024-2025 school year. 

Sofia Sierra is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributors
Sofia Sierra
Sofia Sierra, Web/Copy Editor
Sofia is a junior studying multimedia journalism with a minor in creative writing. She is the web and copy editor at The Prospector. After graduation, she hopes to work outside of El Paso to continue to grow as a writer.
Iziah Moreno
Iziah Moreno, Photo Editor
Iziah Moreno is the photo editor for The Prospector. He is a freshman majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in marketing. After graduation, he hopes to work in the world of photojournalism and media.
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