FAFSA: What a mess!

I’m angrier than a guy who just found out Napster is more over this one.  See, this should be a happy time for college students.  They should be registering for fall classes and perhaps summer classes without worrying about the status of their financial aid, but they are, myself included.  Until decisions have been made about FAFSA, state tuition programs can’t make their decisions.  That means that students are left in limbo.

Students such as myself pretty much have to register for fall classes now in order to get ’em while they’re hot.  But without a firm financial aid decision, at some point the colleges will have to revoke the enrollment.

 NBC News is reporting that grant and loan offers may not be made until next month, and then colleges have to process the students’ loan and grant information in order to figure out what the student actually has to pay before the classes start.  It’s especially stressful for the summer students at the college that I attend, because they need that information now in order to be able to sit for those classes.

I’m not affected quite so much yet as I am not taking summer courses, but I am already enrolled for the fall semester.  It helps that the college is aware of the issue and is helping students as much as they possibly can, but if this debacle goes on much longer, tough decisions might have to be made.

The reason for the problem is that there’s a huge backlog, something that didn’t exist when I enrolled for the spring semester that’s about to end in three weeks.  Add to that the potential for errors and you have quite a situation.

The problems are occurring because of the problematic rollout process. The Department of Education is blaming calculation errors, but the bottom line is that whatever is the root cause of this problem, students who need to know about their financial aid status need to know now so that they don’t have to worry about being turned away.

Reportedly, colleges will start receiving information starting on May 1, but that won’t help us now.  I’m a part-time student and I’m not eligible for anymore student loans.  But I’m still required to submit a FAFSA, because I need to get turned down by them.  I will not get any federal assistance.  That means I’m relying on New York state’s Tuition Aid Program (TAP).  

That grant will pay for everything I need, including money for books. If I were to want to be a full-time student, I’d have to come up with thousands of dollars in order to stay in school.  I have several months to be able to let this matter sort itself out, but some fellow students are sweating bullets as the summer semester is starting quite soon.  They are the ones being immediately affected by this problem.

In the end, I’m sure that I will be approved for more TAP, because my GPA is high enough that I qualify and my income is such that I qualify.  I’m one of the lucky ones, at least thus far.  I feel bad for my fellow students who don’t know what the hell is going on.  They deserve to know, but the DOE isn’t making life easy for them right now.

If this problem drags out, parents or students will pretty much be forced to pursue private loans and that could be quite costly.  At the end of the day, I, and people like me, have nothing to do but finish out the current semester and wait.