What Are Your Rights: FAFSA Delays

Recorded on April 3, 2024

What are your rights when it comes to FAFSA delays? The new FAFSA forms that were intended as a simpler and easier process for parents and students have ended up with myriad issues, leaving families with uncertainty and anxiety about scholarships and college acceptance deadlines. Managing partner Paul Harding from the law firm of Harding Mazzotti, LLP is on CBS6 to break it all down for us.

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Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Harding Mazzotti.

Interviewer: The new FAFSA forms intended as a simpler and easier process for parents and students have ended up with a myriad of issues, leaving families with uncertainty and anxiety about scholarships and college acceptance deadlines. So managing partner, Paul Harding, is here from Harding Mazzotti. Thanks so much for being here.

Paul: Absolutely.

Interviewer: For those who haven’t gone through this process, can you explain first of all what is FAFSA?

Paul: Yeah, FAFSA, it’s the holy grail of student aid. It’s a federal program, but many of the states and localities will use the same semblance of information to see who’s going to get aid and how much.

Interviewer: Right. And obviously, that makes it a pretty easy tool for people applying to many schools at once.

Paul: It sure does.

Interviewer: But there have been a lot of issues recently, so what’s been going on?

Paul: Upgrade. So they didn’t upgrade, they made it so it was going to be faster and easier and maybe less information you have to supply because they were arduous, painful. I’ve gone through those applications over the years and they made it easier, but they didn’t roll it out in time. So normally the families and the students will get their package back in March saying, “You’re going to get this amount of aid, so now these are the schools I can look at that I can afford.” They don’t have the package back, they’re not sure what to do, and this thing is blowing up.

Interviewer: Yeah, and it’s causing these schools to make a lot of different deadline changes.

Paul: Yeah, it’s the students and the schools. Everybody’s kind of just waiting to get back to normal.

Interviewer: Right. And so with something like this when it’s involving a lot of money and deadlines, is there any legal recourse that students or parents or colleges could take?

Paul: So again, keep in mind, only about 20% of the people were affected. The other 80% did kind of go smoothly. I don’t see a lawsuit, I don’t see anything that you can do. I mean, the question is how much money are they going to give you? And they’re going to tell you just not in maybe the time it took you to decide what school you’re going to go to. I didn’t see a lawsuit. What I see is bad press for the federal government, and what we need is more of a patient application process and admission process from the colleges, and I think that’s what’s happening.

Interviewer: Yeah, so what should parents and students be doing now?

Paul: Just stay on that website, just stay on it, because at some point it’s going to be poof, it’s going to come, I think it’s going to come. They say it’s going to come by, they picked April 15th, you know, but sometime in April that everyone’s going to have it there, and the schools have just kind of lagging behind. So the next thing will be, you may not know what school you’re in for a few weeks after when you normally would when you’re making that really unique and tough decision, where am I going to spend the next four years of my life?

Interviewer: Yeah, well, I know a lot of people will be watching this. Thanks for explaining it.

Paul: Absolutely.

Interviewer: And for more information covered in our weekly “What Are Your Rights?” segments or to send us a story idea, just head to our website, cbs6albany.com.

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