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The North Star

The student news site of Naperville North High School

The North Star

The student news site of Naperville North High School

The North Star

Soft launch of new FAFSA form elicits frustration from Naperville North students

Photo by Claire Tanza

The first two weeks of the revamped 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) have been just about as frustrating as expected for Naperville North students. 

On Dec. 30, the 2024-25 FAFSA–a form that tells students of their eligibility for financial aid for college–soft launched, allowing students and their families to access the new form periodically.

Seniors at Naperville North have expressed frustration with accessing the form, creating their FSA ID (a username and password combination used to log in to the U.S. Department of Education online systems) and the delayed release. Senior McKenzie Beinor says that she has encountered irritating glitches in creating her FSA ID.

“I’ve requested for help multiple times and have gone to their live chatting website and no one has helped. It’s been about a week now and I’ve heard nothing from anyone,” Beinor said.

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The soft launch of the form made it so students and their families could start filling it out while the U.S. Department of Education monitored site performance and occasionally conducted pauses for maintenance. The 2024-25 FAFSA is different to years prior because of the FAFSA Simplification Act. This initiative resulted in several major changes, with the most notable being simplifying the form. Replacing the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is now the Student Aid Index (SAI), which adds the term “contributor” to the FAFSA formulas, and expands access to Federal Pell Grants. 

The major change from the EFC to the SAI is removing the number of family members in calculating how much financial aid a person will receive. This means the FAFSA will eliminate the “sibling discount,” causing students with siblings in college to potentially receive less financial aid than past years. The new term “contributor” refers to anyone who will transfer tax information from the IRS onto the FAFSA form. The U.S. Department of Education says this can be “you, your spouse, your biological or adoptive parent, or your parent’s spouse.”

The FAFSA is usually available to students on Oct. 1 of each year, but with modifications to the form, the release of the 2024-25 FAFSA was delayed to the end of Dec. 2023. This raised concerns about the timing of subsequent events like college commitments and even meeting graduation requirements. Senior Audrey Liu voices how the delayed release of the FAFSA and the periodic shutdowns of the form have been frustrating.

“I want to get my [college] decision in as soon as I can so I don’t have to worry about it anymore. And the fact that I’m struggling this much in even opening the website at all is not helping me because not only do I need this for college, but I also need this to graduate. So it’s definitely delaying everything,” Liu said. 

The U.S. Department of Education says that they “will not transmit results to colleges or career/trade school until later in January 2024,” which results in students having to wait to receive their need-based financial aid packages. Beinor explains how this delay has changed her timeline in committing to a college.

“All of the colleges that I was highly considering have already gotten back to me and now all I’m waiting for is to figure out my financial aid situation. I will say that the [release of the FAFSA] has affected my time and decision quite a bit,” Beinor said.

At the time of this publication, the FAFSA is available 24/7. Although priority filing dates differ from state to state, the federal deadline to submit the 2024-25 form is by 11:59 p.m. Central Time (CT) on June 30, 2025. Details on individual state deadlines can be found here. NNHS College and Career Counselor Brian La Porte said filling out the FAFSA as soon as possible will allow North students to meet priority filing deadlines, which could mean more money for college.

“The later a student waits to apply for the FAFSA, the less time they will have to make a decision (between receiving their award letters and May 1, 2024),” La Porte said.

Addy Doxey contributed to this story.

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About the Contributor
Claire Tanza
Claire Tanza, Editor-in-Chief
Claire Tanza is a senior at Naperville North and is so excited to be taking on the role of Editor-in-Chief this year. In her second year of writing for The North Star, she can’t wait to support the staff in developing their journalistic skills and continue working on her own journalistic pursuits. Outside of the newsroom, you can find Claire playing on North’s varsity tennis team, involved in theater, being the co-president of GEMS and a part of Senior Board.

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