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FAFSA delays cause stress for Illinois students making college decisions and considering financial aid to pay for school

PALATINE, Illinois (WLS) — Financial aid is a big factor in the decisions many students make about college.

This year’s delay in rolling out the new federal financial aid forms has created many problems for many families and schools, students told ABC7.

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Maricela Moss is a sophomore at Harper College in Palatine. Relying on financial aid to pay for school, she was unsure until recently whether she would be able to continue.

“We were biting our nails wondering if we were going to get any money because of all the changes we heard about,” Moss said.

The federal government revamped the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, form this year, delaying the rollout by several months. For this year’s crop of high school seniors planning for college, a typically exciting time became much more stressful.

We’ve seen a number that aren’t supposed to report…some that don’t go to school.

Kevin Towns, North Central College

Students normally fill out the FAFSA form in the fall and it helps determine which colleges they choose in the spring. The delay in rolling out the new forms has been stressful for students who are unsure where or even if they can afford to attend college.

“As far as our students are concerned, it puts them in limbo,” Harper College Provost Ruth Williams said. “FAFSA Simplification Wasn’t So Simple.”

Completing the free application for federal student aid is a graduation requirement in Illinois, but the rollout delay and uncertainty have created difficult decisions for many.

“We’ve seen a number that won’t report … some that don’t go to school,” said Kevin Towns with North Central College.

READ MORE | A new FAFSA problem could make families wait longer for financial aid

However, the uncertainty has also left money on the table, and some colleges are finding they still have scholarships and financial aid available. They said it’s not too late to apply.

Austin Sobey, who guides students at Schaumburg’s Conant High School, said it could ultimately work out for the better.

“I am hopeful that this will create opportunities for families who may not have known about financial aid opportunities,” Sobey said.

While the financial aid delays have created problems for many schools and students, they must be resolved quickly. The autumn term at many schools starts in mid-August.

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