As College Costs and Inflation Both Skyrocket, FAFSA is More Confusing Than Ever
A Debt.com poll shows more applicants had trouble following the federal government’s instructions than they did last year.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The two biggest complaints about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) have gotten bigger this year.
A new Debt.com survey reveals that 53 percent said the biggest challenge to filling out this important application was not knowing all the financial information FAFSA is asking for, which is a 9 percent increase over last year.
Overall, 38 percent said they had trouble filling out a FAFSA form, compared to 31 percent in 2021. That’s a concerning development, since the majority of student loans are federal loans, and the only way to secure this loan is by completing the 106 questions on the FAFSA form.
“The basic architecture of this crucial form is unchanged,” says Debt.com President Don Silvestri. “Instead, I believe it’s the people who have changed.”
Silvestri explains that during the pandemic, Americans had more time to focus on the complexities of compiling all the qualifying information, which ranges from a federal tax return to records of assets and untaxed income.
“FAFSA didn’t get any more difficult, we had more time to decipher it because we were sheltering at home during the pandemic,” Silvestri theorizes. “Now that we’re back to our busy lives, it’s easy to get distracted and read instructions a little less carefully.”
Other findings include:
- 89% say they thought they would qualify for financial aid, but only 69% qualified.
- 15% say they received an error message when filing out the form, down 3% from last year.
- 36% say they felt the Pell Grant would involve taking on more debt, which is 2% more than last year.
Silvestri predicts these numbers will improve when Debt.com conducts the same poll next year. Big changes are coming to the FAFSA form next year – including the total number of questions being reduced to 36 questions. “I still expect some harried parents to miss key instructions, but overall, we should see a significant improvement,” Silvestri says. “These changes should really help.”
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