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The rollout of an updated version of the FAFSA has caused significant problems and delays for college-bound seniors at Robert M. La Follette High School in Madison, Wisconsin. Despite efforts from students and counselors, technical glitches have prevented many students from successfully submitting the form, leading to stress and frustration for low-income families who rely on financial aid. Concerns are rising about the long-term impact these issues may have on students’ ability to attend college in the fall and their future earning potential.

The changes to the FAFSA were meant to simplify the form and help more students qualify for federal student aid, but the glitches this year have made the process more challenging for families. La Follette High School, where a high percentage of students come from low-income families, has seen a significant decrease in successful FAFSA submissions compared to previous years. The worry is that some students may give up on going to college altogether or settle for a different, less-preferred option due to financial aid uncertainties.

In response to the difficulties faced by students, La Follette High School has increased support services for families, offering workshops and one-on-one guidance to help navigate the application process. Mixed-status families, where parents may not have Social Security numbers, have encountered specific challenges that have delayed their ability to submit the FAFSA. Although some solutions have been provided by the Department of Education, concerns remain about families giving up on the process due to ongoing issues.

The Department of Education has taken steps to address the problems with this year’s FAFSA rollout, providing grants to organizations assisting students with filing the form. However, criticism has been leveled at the Biden administration for the botched implementation, prompting an investigation by the Government Accountability Office. Despite the national decrease in FAFSA submissions compared to previous years, students at La Follette High School have seen some success in recent weeks after facing initial hurdles.

After a three-hour session of frustration, one student and his father at La Follette High School were finally able to successfully submit the FAFSA. The breakthrough came unexpectedly, bringing tears of joy to the counselor who had been assisting them. While the technical glitches and delays have caused significant stress for students and families, there are hopeful signs of progress and resolution for those who persevere through the challenges of this year’s FAFSA process.

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