The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | FAFSA is leading students away from financial aid

The free FAFSA application is so complicated that some students don’t even finish filling it out. This form needs to be simplified for students to make the process easier and college more accessible.

One of the most unnecessarily difficult parts of college is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, process.

Not only is the FAFSA application overly confusing to fill out, but it can cause students to dismiss college completely. The Hechinger Report stated that FAFSA is arguably one of “the most complex and convoluted higher education forms and documents.”

For those who are unaware of the complexity of the form and why it is difficult for some to fill out, FAFSA determines how much aid a student is eligible for, which includes loans, grants, work-study, etc. Therefore, the form includes a heap of financial information about parents or guardians that most high school students might not even know about.

I know what you might be thinking; why don’t the parents just fill it out or help fill it out then? According to Inside Higher Ed and a survey done by The Education Consulting Company, 40 percent of first-generation students and 37 percent of low-income students fill out their own FAFSA, unlike the 11 percent of higher-income students. These are the students who are most likely to need the most financial assistance.

Forbes contributor Vinay Bhaskara wrote in a 2022 article that financial aid documents are very complex to fill out, which makes college less accessible for high school seniors.

A lot of students who aspire to head to college after high school graduation depend on some type of financial support to attend college.   from Trellis Research, which included data from 89 college institutions, found that almost three in four students experienced financial distress in that past year.

What we are learning is that financial suffering is prevalent among many universities and financial help is needed to get by as a college student. So why is getting financial aid and something as simple as filling out a form so difficult?

Because of the overwhelming steps in completing the FAFSA form, Forbes Magazine found that 40 percent of high school seniors end up not even finishing the form. There should be no reason in the world that this form, which is rooted in helping students get to college, is what is solely stopping them from going.

FAFSA, which is not only making it nearly impossible for some students to get help with tuition costs, has also found itself in a bit of heat lately due to aid delays.

She recently told universities that because of a glitch, financial aid disbursement would be delayed until April. The New York Times said this delay may put college plans out the door as most students decide where to go to school by May 1. The delay will not give students enough time to decide if they can essentially afford the university they wish to attend.

As FAFSA digs itself further into a hole, we must know that the complicatedness of financial aid is nothing new. This is why the system needs to be simplified, nearly free of mistakes and glitches, so that students can seemingly transition to college without having any financial distress.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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