The FAFSA portal is open. But the difficulty of the form can be an issue for some students


The FAFSA form is required to receive financial aid and scholarships at many universities. (Anya Ivory/TCU360)

By Anya Ivory, Staff Writer

It’s that time of year again. The Free Application for Student Aid, or FAFSA, recently opened for the 2023-2024 school year. It is an annual task for degree-seeking students. For some high school seniors, it’s something they have been anticipating. But the difficulty of the form can be troubling.

“I pressed send on my [application] at 11:48 a.m., October 1st,” said Azael Hernandez a senior at a Fort Worth high school. “I’ve been waiting my whole life to go to college. I didn’t care how hard it might be.”

All college students, both current and prospective, can fill out the FAFSA. The forms open on Oct. 1 each year and help determine one’s eligibility for assistance.

Hernandez is one of 1 million Texans who will submit the FAFSA. He referenced the reputation of the form, which has historically been critiqued for being difficult.

The 86-question query details a student’s full financial history. Then, an expected family contribution, or EFC, is calculated, taking into consideration the total cost of attendance.

Many schools, including TCU, also require the FAFSA for scholarship consideration. The aid awarded can vary annually, and according to the department of Federal Student Aid, the max award this year was $6,895.

Still, some students leave that money on the table, which is likely in due part to the difficulty of the form. The National College Attainment Network estimates that $3.75 billion went unclaimed in 2021. They also observed that FAFSA applications for the 2022-2023 cycle were down 8.9% year-over-year.

Kaelyn Hause, another high school senior in Fort Worth, says she probably will not renew FAFSA next year.

“I’m pell-grant ineligible, which means I will solely rely on scholarships and loans,” Hause said. Despite Hause’s circumstances, she said another reason she will likely will not renew is because of the “confusing presentation” of financial questions.

But the FAFSA Simplification Act of 2021 outlined a shorter, more intuitive form that is better integrated with the IRS. The simplified version of the FAFSA is expected to debut in October of 2023.