How did COVID-19 impact the FAFSA® process?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has shifted the lives of people around the globe. Aside from all the closings and cancellations, college students have to deal with the COVID-19 impact on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) process. 

One of the reasons why someone may not go to college is due to the high cost of attendance. 85% of college students receive some form of financial aid to help pay for the ever-growing cost of higher education. So, how has COVID-19 impacted the FAFSA® process since the pandemic started back in March?

A decline in FAFSA® Completion Rate

Many American families have had to re-adjust their home living situations to work from home and switch to online learning for their kids. Since March, the closing of schools across the U.S. has caused a decline in the FAFSA® completion rates.

Among other contributing factors, the decline can be a result of limited access to the Internet. Bill DeBaun, director of data and evaluation at the National College Attainment Network (NCAN), is concerned that the students who have not completed their applications are those who need it the most. These students are typically first-generation college students and come from low-income households. 

Those with limited internet access can download a hardcopy version of the FAFSA® form. Once completed and signed, mail the application over to the student’s list of schools.

Although we’re living through difficult times, not all hopes are lost. Families are encouraged to complete the application in only minutes by using FRANK’s FAFSA® simplified tool. This simpler FAFSA® can be completed via a mobile phone, desktop, or tablet. 

Changes to Family’s Financial Situation

If COVID-19 has significantly impacted your family’s financial situation, and the federal income tax return does not reflect their current financial position, your financial aid award may be eligible for adjustment. These changes include the loss of job employment or a drop in income. 

Your financial aid award may be adjusted by submitting your FAFSA® form and filing an Aid Appeal with your school. Feel free to discuss your current financial situation and provide any documents that can support your family’s income change — any many cases, schools can accommodate additional aid for these circumstances.

Deadline Extension

To qualify for Federal Student Aid, students must file the FAFSA® form before the application deadline. 

Here are the FAFSA® deadlines for the current and upcoming academic years:

  • 2021-2022 FAFSA® – Opened on October 1, 2020, and closes on June 30, 2022
  • 2022-2023 FAFSA® – Opens on October 1, 2021, and closes on June 30, 2023

The global health emergency has prompted several colleges and states to announce FAFSA® deadline extensions. Therefore, students and families need to stay up-to-date with any recent changes to their FAFSA® process. They can do this by checking websites regularly for updates.

To find out whether your school has extended its FAFSA® deadline for institutional financial aid purposes, contact the school’s financial aid office.  

In the meantime, you can stay up-to-date with the latest coronavirus impact on financial aid by visiting our Coronavirus Resources page.