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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Student financial aid offer release delayed

Sean Reed
A sign reading “245 Student Financial Aid Office” hangs the window outside of the Financial Aid Office. The changes to the FAFSA for the 2024-2025 school year is pushing back the student financial aid packet release date. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

DeKALB – With the new updates FAFSA has implemented, student financial aid offers across the country are being delayed. 

For the 2024-25 school year and beyond, the U.S. Department of Education updated the FAFSA to create an easier and simpler process for students and parents to complete. 

With all of these updates, students now have to readjust and learn how to fill out FAFSA.

“There’s a lot less info they asked from me,” said Tashique Lawrence, a sophomore psychology major. “It was just weird how it was, because they changed their criteria for certain grants. It was weird, period, full stop. I didn’t like it. I was very confused with the new format as well.

These changes to FAFSA have caused a lot of confusion for students and parents.

“Since the entire FAFSA was switched around and changed I had no idea what to do,” said Taylor Lipe, a sophomore special education major. “I was in an online waiting room for hours before I was even able to enter the website to start putting in the information.”  

NIU offers services to help students and their families with financial aid. 

Sol Jensen, the vice president for Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications, said the Financial Aid office has helped hundreds of students figure out their FAFSA forms and how to navigate their student loans this year.

“Our Financial Aid Office, in Swen Parson Hall, is able to work with students and help them complete the FAFSA,” said Jensen.

NIU’s Financial Aid Office also has a website for students to get more information about NIU related financial aid.

“We also have an office called Student Financial Advising, and that’s an office with our staff in there to help students better understand how to pay for college here at NIU. We can walk through the pros and cons of taking out different student loans. We are also always concerned about student loan debt,” Jensen said.

However, with the new additions and subtractions to the FAFSA, the initial release was later than expected. While the original FAFSA had a release date of Oct. 1, the newly updated FAFSA was released on Dec. 31. 

Jensen said since the FAFSA was released later, schools are not going to be getting students’ FAFSA information until at least mid March which is later than usual. 

“We cannot finish processing financial aid offers until student information is sent to us. The information is going to be different this year because of the FAFSA simplification.” Jensen said.

With this delay, the student financial release information is also pushed back. That being said, students’ school specific financial aid packets are not slated to be released until mid-to-late April. 

“We know that that’s a very big concern for many students and their families as they are trying to make decisions on what college to go to if they are still a high school or transfer student that hasn’t come here before” Jensen said. “We are very very mindful of all of that, and we are going to do everything we possibly can to get our financial aid notifications out as soon as possible.”

Jensen said the FAFSA changes are going to affect colleges and students all across the country.

“I think if there’s anything positive out of this it’s that all institutions are in this together. We are all impacted. I do think that some institutions are impacted more than others just because some schools have students with higher financial needs,” Jensen said.

The NIU Financial Aid Office urges students to file their FAFSA sooner rather than later. Even with the delays, the sooner student information can be sent, the sooner financial aid offers will be released. 

Students can fill out their FAFSA on the Federal Student Aid website by July 1 for fall semester financial aid. 

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