The MEFA Institute: Helping Families Navigate the Challenges and Delays of the New FAFSA

The new 2024-25 FAFSA is open, but some families have experienced difficulty navigating the application process. In this webinar for school counselors and college access professionals, we review known issues, technical bugs, and workarounds (when available) of the new FAFSA. We also discuss the impact of the delayed FAFSA launch on financial aid deadlines and the release of financial aid offers, as well as the process of updating and correcting FAFSA data.

Download the webinar slides to follow along.


Please note that this transcript was auto-generated. We apologize for any minor errors in spelling or grammar.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: All right. Good morning. My name is Julie Shields Rutina, and I'm the Director of College Planning, Education, and Training. And I want to welcome you this morning for joining this webinar, helping families navigate the challenges and delays of the new FAFSA. Obviously a really important topic. I will say this webinar is intended for school counselors.

If you are a Parent or students and you're here. That's that's fine. You're welcome to stay and learn. But the structure of this will be, you know, we'll be speaking to our school counselors and we have a family webinar on this exact same topic on next Wednesday, February 21st. At 4 p. m. So we'll put the links to that right here this morning as well, but feel free to stay.

Um, if if you would like. So, yes, this morning, we're going to talk about the financial aid process in the FAFSA, which, um. Is very different this year, and I know there are probably lots of questions. I feel very much honored to be able to pass this off in a moment to Mephis two directors of college relations, Sean Morrissey and Stephanie Wells, and I am so grateful that they have really been keeping up to date up to the minute on everything that's happening with federal student aid and really In close contact with colleges and universities as well.

So there's a lot of information they're going to be able to share with you this morning. We also know you probably have a lot of questions. So behind the scenes will be will be monitoring that. So if you have a question. Please, you know, put it in the question and answer section, and we will try to get to as many questions as we can, although I will say, um, this presentation has a lot of, a lot of detailed information in it.

So, with that, um, it also, if you need closed captioning, you can, um, Click on the CC button on your screen and you'll be able to see the words that we're speaking. We are recording this and tomorrow we will send the recording and the slides to everyone who registered. You can also feel free to share this with your colleagues who weren't able to be here today.

So I think with that, I'm going to pass it over to you, Sean, and thank you again all

Stephanie Wells: for being

Shawn Morrissey: here. Thank you, Julie. And thank you for joining us.

So this is what we'll be talking about today and there's a lot of information that we'll be going through. Um, we've learned a lot from FSA recently about updates to the process in some new resources that are available to families to help them through the process. We also spoke with a lot of colleges and universities over the last few weeks and we did have a meeting yesterday with Massachusetts colleges and we'll be able to share some information that they spoke to us about.

We'll have some other resources for you and we're going to leave a little time at the end for some questions and open discussion if you need. So the big picture, just, um, to take a little step back and think about FAFSA simplification and why it happened, because, um, with all of the delays and some of the problems families have been experiencing, I think sometimes we've lost sight of what, what's happening with, with the FAFSA, and That there are some good things that are coming out of this.

So first of all, the purpose of FAFSA simplification was to make the application simpler. And in a lot of cases for families that are experiencing difficulties, it is a really quick process for that. We hearing from a lot of families that it takes under 10 minutes to fill out the FAFSA and they're actually calling us saying, I think we missed something because we don't have to put in any type of.

Um, financial information and it seemed too easy. So, um, for families that aren't experiencing difficulties, it is a simpler application and once. It goes through this first iteration. I think in future years, it will be a simpler application for all families. Hopefully, we'll be able to have that really quick experience of filling out the FAFSA, and it won't be, um, the difficult application that we've seen in prior years where families really are worried about filling it out and have to do it.

Have a lot of information in front of them to do that. So hopefully that simpler application will be available for everyone in the future. Also, there's more straightforward Pell eligibility criteria and more students are eligible for Pell under the new formula. So that is another great benefit of FAFSA simplification and we have seen that.

With now that Pell isn't tied to the student aid index, which the student aid index replaced the EFC. And in the past, Pell was directly tied to your EFC number. But now there are three ways that you can get Pell. You can get a maximum Pell award, um, if you are Under a certain percentage of the federal poverty level, and then you can get a minimum Pell as well if you are at a different level of, um, under the poverty level in the United States, and we are seeing a lot more students qualified for Pell under these circumstances.

And there are federal methodology changes, um, behind the scenes. And there have been some recent ones as well where they are making changes to the income protection allowance and, um, the asset protection allowance and adjusting those for inflation. And that's one of the reasons for um, the recent delays that were just announced that I'll be talking about in a few moments.

They are updating those for inflation and so student SAIs will then go down because um, more of the family's assets and income are not included in the formula. Because of these inflation corrections that they're putting in for that. And that's one of the reasons they just announced that delay until early March to deliver the FAFSAs to schools.

And I'll be talking all about that in just a second. So the colleges, state agencies, and scholarship organizations will begin receiving ISERs in the first half of March. So the way that they're going to do that is they're going to batch the ISERs. by student and they will be sending those in a first received first process manner.

So the students that filed their FAFSA, the earliest will have their FAFSAs processed and sent to schools, um, beginning in the beginning of March. And again, those will be sent in batches. So they're not all going to be sent. At the same time, um, FSA has said that they're receiving approximately 100, 000 applications every day and they.

Expect that they will have about six million applications by the beginning of March. Um, so that means they'll have a lot of, um, FAFSAs to process and put into these batches. And all of the FAFSAs do have to go through matches with a lot of different agencies like the Veterans Administration, the Social Security Administration, NSLDS.

There are a lot of matches that have to happen. Each of those agencies have, um, Limits on the amount of Applications that they can process in a day. So all of those systems talking to one another is going to mean that the batches are going to be limited by the capacity of each of those agencies. So they don't know exactly how quickly those batches will go out to schools, but they will try to get them out as quickly as possible.

And they will also communicate, um, to schools about Um, The percentage of applications that they are processing so that schools will know when they receive, um, a good amount of their batches. So, for example, when they get to 50 percent of all of the backlog of. FAFSAs processed, they will let schools know, um, and so forth, so that schools will know when they receive all of their backlogs of FAFSAs.

They are going to process all of the FAFSAs that they receive online first, and then go to the paper FAFSAs. So, um, The paper FAFSAs that have been sent in will be processed after the online FAFSA. So if a student um, filed a paper FAFSA because they couldn't access the online form and then went online.

And they were able to, um, fill out the online form afterwards, their online form will be processed first and not their paper FAFSA. Um, and then they have said they are going to look at seeing if the paper FAFSA. They will go back and use the original date that was on the paper FAFSA instead of that online FAFSA for someone who has done both, um, but they haven't promised that yet, but they are looking into doing that so that students can receive credit for filing earlier.

Um, for those that just filed by paper, they will go back. They have date stamped windows. Paper FAFSAs come in and will use that date when they are processing the FAFSA as the FAFSA receipt date. So they will go back to the date of receipt on that. Um, students will also receive an email informing them that their FAFSA has been processed.

It has been sent to the school. Once they receive that email, then they are able to go back in and do any corrections, which I'll be talking about in a moment. Um, and one of the big things when we were talking to schools yesterday that they were talking about is to inform students that When they get that email saying that their FAFSA has been processed to wait a couple of weeks to contact the school to see about their award, because it's not going to be, as you probably know, an immediate award coming, um, once the schools receive that information, they do have to review that information and it will take a couple of weeks to do that at the minimum.

So in order to help schools have the time to review those FAFSAs and not being a have to answer a lot of questions from students immediately upon receiving those applications. It would be helpful for students to hold off a couple of weeks to call the schools to check on their rewards. So FAFSA corrections, students will be able to make their corrections as soon as their application is processed, which will be starting in the first half of March.

So the student will have to wait until they get that individual email from, um, FSA that outlines all of the information that they reported on their FAFSA, so they'll be able to see that FAFSA submission summary. Excuse me. And then they will, um, be able to go in and make corrections on the fafsa. If they, um, did do their FAFSA by paper, they can do a paper correction as well, but they will also have access to fill that out and make corrections online as long as they have an F-S-A-I-D, um, which gives them access to the student account to make those corrections online.

And. Students, um, can make those corrections as well by contacting FSA, calling them, and making the corrections over the phone if they need to as well. So there are three methods for students to make those corrections. Excuse me. And, um, again, regardless of the original application method, they will be able to access their FAFSA submission summary online on the studentaid.

gov account as long as they have one set up. So that's great for students that filled out a paper FAFSA because they weren't able to access the online application at the, um, Um onset of filling that out, but have since been able to set up an FSA ID They can go online and do the rest of the process online and see what they submitted via paper um online as well and schools will also be able to process corrections after they receive the FAFSA information and the Um, an ICER is what the school receives as the results of the FAFSA.

There is a great new tool for families out there that just debuted last week, um, that's available at studentaid. gov. If students and families go to studentaid. gov slash FAFSA tips, there are some great tips on there to help families through that and to talk about some of the trickier questions that They've seen students having problems on so they talk about creating an FSA ID and talk about doing that before going in and starting a FAFSA so that students have that FSA ID set up in time for them to start the FAFSA.

Because again, the FSA ID should be set up. At least three to five days before starting the FAFSA so that all of the verification can happen behind the scenes with the Social Security Administration so that students can use the IRS tool that pulls in all of the information, which is called FADDX. And in order for that to happen smoothly, the FSA ID does need to be verified.

If a student goes in right after they fill out their FSA ID, they can still access the application, but they will have to manually enter all of their tax information into the FAFSA. And it's a lot more difficult for families to do it that way. So it's better to have the FSA ID. set up, wait a few days, and then fill out the FAFSA so that you can use that, um, the IRS can just pull the information right in for you.

Um, it also tells you what documents, um, to gather and contributor information that is needed and who is the contributor, um, and guidance for reviewing, submitting, and correcting the form. So that's all available now on studentaid. gov FAFSA tips.

And I'm sure we're all aware that contributors without an SSN, unfortunately, are experiencing a lot of difficulties filling out the FAFSA. They're either having difficulties starting and getting an FSA ID, or once they have the FSA ID, they're having problems where they're getting stuck in a loop when trying to fill out the FAFSA.

FSA is well aware of these issues. And they are working tirelessly on trying to fix that. Unfortunately, there's no timeline for when that will be fixed. But they know that this is a big problem. They really want this fixed. And they said they will shout it from the mountaintops when it is fixed. So hopefully we'll all hear about it very loud and clear when that is fixed.

And as soon as it's fixed, um, we will be sharing information on this. And, um, then families will be able to go in and fill out the FAFSA without a social security number. We spoke about this as well yesterday with, um, some of the schools that we were talking to in Massachusetts, and they recommended that students without a social security number who are experiencing problems to please contact the financial aid offices where they are applying so that they can see if there are any.

If there's anything else they can do to help them out in the meantime, if some school said that they will work with them to see if there are alternate applications that they can fill out to get them estimated awards, anything that they can do to help them, um, With the process and to make a decision, they will be happy to do so.

Please let students that are in this situation. Now, in schools also know this is a problem and will not hold, um, any students that are in the situation. Accountable for having to meet a deadline that they couldn't meet because this was not available to them. There are also some other Issues known that are problems on the FAFSA.

All of those are on the 2024 25 FAFSA issue alerts and There are quite a few listed there. Some of them are broader and some of them are just small Problems that are happening to in very unique situations but they did say that they are Working through those as they can but they are going to batch and make patch updates in batch on these so you may see Um them fall off in batches all at once Not one a day on how those go through so you may see quite a few listed And then one day you may see a bunch of them have been solved Um, because that they have put a patch through on those, but you can take a look at those.

If you see a student that the process just doesn't seem to be working like it's supposed to for them, check that FAFSA issue alert and see if that's something that's happening to everyone. Um, or some students can have. experience that as well. It should be on that FAFSA issue alert list. Some of the common errors that they've seen, um, students encountering have been around a couple of questions and they're trying to make some changes to the language in order to help students through.

The first one that causes a lot of confusion is the date of legal residency, um, for the state. Um, students don't understand what the date of legal residency means, so they've added language in there in the help section that says if you were born in this state, enter the month and the year that you were born, because for most students, um, that would be the case.

For them. If not, then they would use that the date that they moved to the state and that would be their state their date. They became a legal resident of the state in the other one that's causing even more confusion for students and can cause. Big differences in eligibility for a student is when they get to the end of their dependency status determination and it says that they are dependent student.

They have this question and it says apply for a direct. unsubsidized loan only. And then underneath it says, are the student's parents unwilling to provide their information, but the student doesn't have an unusual circumstance that presents them, prevents them from contacting or obtaining their parents information.

And students are saying yes to this in error, thinking that that they want to apply for a direct subsidized loan, not only a direct unsubsidized loan. And so they're saying yes to this and then it's skipping all the parental information and making them ineligible for other types of federal aid. So they are going to be changing the language on this question very soon to take that apply language out of there entirely and make it much clearer that this is a special circumstance where a student's parents are unwilling to provide their information and then they would only be eligible for a direct unsubsidized loan if they go through this route.

And they're also going to change the order of the questions so that no is first because most students should be saying no to this. If a student has answered yes to this question Previously, they will be able to update this information when their FAFSA is processed in early March. They can do a correction to that, then provide parental information and be eligible for the other types of financial aid.

But hopefully that language will be updated very soon so that students aren't as confused by that question. So what are we learning from, um, schools about any change to their deadline based on these, um, these delays for information going to schools? So some schools are extending their financial aid and enrollment deadlines because of their delays.

Others are keeping their original deadlines, but, um, they are planning to be a little bit more flexible on that. We will have Some of the, um, results of a survey that we ran yesterday to Massachusetts schools to show you what that breakdown looks like from the group that we did talk to yesterday. Um, but a lot of schools are expressing that even if they haven't extended their deadline, they are going to be flexible with students that are unable to make, um, their deadlines because of problems with the FAFSA or delays to the FAFSA.

So they are well aware of the problems going on and they just recommend that students take screenshots of any errors they encounter, contact them, let them know what problems they are experiencing so that they can work with the students and work through all of these problems with them. Um, And try to do everything they can to get them an award in a timely manner so that they can make their, um, their awards to them before all these deadlines come out.

There are some schools that have the CSS profile form in addition to the FAFSA that are going to be able to make an award. Make awards based on that information and send out their awards in the same timeline that they already have. So you may have students that are receiving awards from some schools, but not from other schools because some schools do have them.

That process that they have the CSS profile and can use that information to create awards Other student other schools that don't have the CSS profile won't have that information and their Awards may be delayed until after they receive the FAFSA so just Let students know if you're hearing from them that they've received an award from one school and not another another school that that award will be forthcoming.

We have also heard from some schools that are using the CSS profile and are able to get their awards out on their regular timeline, that they're still thinking about extending their enrollment deadlines because they know that students won't hear from all schools about what their financial aid is, and they want them to have all the information before having to make a decision as to whether they are going, um, to that school or not.

So here are the results of our informal poll that we did with A small group of Massachusetts colleges and universities about what they are planning to do with their financial aid and enrollment deposit deadlines. So we first asked, is your school extending your financial aid deadline? And 11 percent of the schools said, no, we have decided not to extend our deadline.

We're going to keep the deadline where it is. Um, then we had. 36 percent of the schools saying that no, we're not changing the published deadline, but we're going to be flexible with families that need an extension. 20 percent of the school said that they're not, um, extending their deadline yet, but they're considering extending it.

So they're trying to see what's going to be happening. Um, and we'll think about that. And then. 32 percent have already extended their deadline, um, and that should be published on their website. And then for extending the enrollment deposit deadline, 23 percent have decided not to extend their deadline.

11 percent are not changing the published deadline but will be flexible with families. And 32 percent have not changed it yet, but are considering it in 34 percent have already extended their deadline. So for most schools, they are either extending their deadline. Or going to be flexible with students.

So that's good news. Um, for students who are worried about making those deadlines that there are there is some flexibility there and some extensions coming. Sean, if

Stephanie Wells: if you don't mind, I just want to pipe in real quick about the previous side. Um, just want to highlight that it was a very informal zoom poll.

So it's not scientific. Um. And also, one of the things that the colleges said that I think Sean mentioned earlier, but I just want to, they wanted us to stress to our friends, our school counselor friends, is that once a FAFSA is processed sometime in March, to give the school at least two weeks to get that information and create a financial aid offer, they're not, families should not expect a financial aid offer immediately upon getting their FAFSA submission summary.

So. Just give the schools, you know, a couple weeks, give them a little bit of time to get that done because they're going to be in crunch mode and, you know, just, just give them, give them a little breather before giving them a call looking for your financial aid offer. They are definitely going to be working triple overtime to get as many of them out the door as quick as possible.

Shawn Morrissey: Thank you, Stephanie. Yes, and sometimes getting those calls saying what am I getting my award letter when when they're trying to work through them just delays The award letters getting out so they have to answer those calls So hopefully you can give them a little breathing room and let them work through all of those forms they have to process in a very very compact timeline because usually they were getting this information in October and able to work through all of that Now they're going to be getting in in March to get out, um, by the end of March, early April, so there's a really ambitious timeline there for financial aid offices and they're ready to get the work done, but, um, we have to help them out as well by trying to, to, to keep their workload as low as possible by not.

getting them flooded with phone calls as well. Um, we also wanted to talk about scholarship deadlines because we have heard from a few scholarship organizations about their deadlines and they hadn't been changing them because they don't understand what's going on with all these delays as well as financial aid offices and school counselors understand that.

So if you have any connections with scholarship committees, please urge them to extend their deadlines to help families. Other scholarship Criteria that some scholarships are asking for their, the SAI, the new EFC. And right now students aren't receiving an SAI when they fill out their FAFSA at the end of the process because they've taken That formula down, um, to do those updates for inflation.

And so S. A. I. Is it calculating for students who are currently filling out the FAFSA? So even students who are filling out the FAFSA in having it processed. Well, not processed, but completed, um, and getting their email. They're not getting the SAI like students were receiving earlier, so they can't provide that to scholarship committees at this point and won't be able to do that until early March when their FAFSAs process.

So, um, if any outreach you can do to these scholarship committees to let them know that those are things that students aren't able to provide right now. They can't give them the FAFSA submission summaries like the SARs that they used to be able to give them because those aren't available to students yet.

The SAI is not available to all students at this point. Um, we have heard from one of our friends at Mass Ed Co. Donna Conley was able to reach out to some of the scholarship organizations in Worcester and successfully work with them to extend some of those deadlines to help families out so that they're not missing out on scholarships because families are doing everything they can to get the FAFSA done but all the information that scholarship committees are expecting may not be available to them in the same timeline this year as they have been in other years and so anything we can do to help, um, To help let the scholarship organizations know and educate them about the whole process.

Um, that would be very helpful.

Stephanie Wells: Sean, if you don't mind, um, just pausing on this side for just a second, because we did get a few questions about it that we've been able to answer, but just wanted to highlight, you know, some of the questions that came in, um, just to kind of talk about a little bit more, since this is a very Deep topic of conversation that counselors are finding.

Um, so we, we have had some questions about locating the FSA, SAI, and obviously you've addressed that, that some families, even though they've submitted their FAFSA, they're not going to have one. I actually talked to a mom who had twins. She filed the FAFSA on the same, at the same time, she got an SAI for one twin, but not for the other twin.

So she didn't know what to provide the scholarship organization. And I guess we'll just reiterate again, try and give them a screenshot of the submission, a link to a headline news article about the delays. Um, we're finding that some of the scholarship organizations, as Sean mentioned, just aren't as aware as our school counselor friends of what's going on.

Um, and why they families just are. It's impossible to meet their deadline with the information they're requesting. Um, so I think just by helping us help, help us help them educate these scholarship organizations because we don't really have a deep database of those folks to reach out to to get the information out the way we can for school counselors.

Um, so, yeah, we got a few questions about it, but we've been able to answer them and. Just want to thank the folks that are trying to help students, um, get that information. And sometimes you just won't be able to give them what they need right now. And that's, that's just going to have to be okay. And they just have to work with students.

Um, so just wanted to stress that a little bit as well.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: And I will just add too, there's a counselor who shared that they're providing Students with letters that they can upload into their scholarship applications, just saying there are, uh, delays and all of that. So, yeah, everything you guys can do. It's a, this

Stephanie Wells: is a tough one.

Shawn Morrissey: Yeah, and it's really tough now that they're not publishing an SAI for anyone that's filling out, uh, FAFSA. At the beginning of the process, some students did receive SAIs upon, um, submitting their FAFSA. They would get an email that had an SAI in it. That SAI may be updated as well, because they are going to reprocess.

They're going to, when they process all of the FAFSAs, they're going to be using those new, Tables that were adjusted for inflation and it will recalculate the SAI for all those students that filed earlier and their SAI may actually end up being a little bit lower than what they originally filed because of the new.

Tables that are updated for inflation. Some students that may stay the same for, but for other students, it may change a little bit may see a new once there is processed in early March and. If you do see that and have questions about that from students as to why did my SAI change from when I filed originally to when my FAFSA processed.

And the reason being for that would be the update to those new tables that were adjusted for inflation for income protection allowance and asset protection allowance. Yes, Stephanie. Yeah.

Stephanie Wells: Sorry to interrupt. It's hard to tell. Um, while we're on the topic of deadlines, we did have a good question come in that Julie's answering about current college students who need to do a renewal FAFSA.

So when should they do that? Should they be contacting financial aid and just wanted to answer it live for everybody? Cause it's a good question. I've been telling families. That if they have a renewal FAFSA to look on the college's website to find out what the deadline is for that FAFSA submission, it's typically later in the process, April timeframe, and colleges will be right up front and say they're not even touching renewals until they get through first year students.

So there's not going to be as big a push to get, you know, the renewal FAFSAs in in March. Um, typically those deadlines are going to be April, but you can find you can find that on the college's website, but I've definitely been encouraging families that can wait until all of these glitches, um, work itself out to just wait another few weeks or a month until, you know, the crunch has gone through, um, because their deadlines are a little bit later.

Shawn Morrissey: Yeah, the deadlines are a little later, usually for returning students. Um, the two things that they want to make sure of, though, is that the mass state deadline is still May 1st for mass state scholarship. Um, that hasn't been extended yet. Um, we'll let everyone know if we do hear of any updates to that date.

Um, 1st deadline. And also if they are taking summer courses and need financial aid for their summer courses and they may have a little bit earlier deadline if they are taking summer courses. So check the deadlines on the school's website to make sure that they're meeting those, but they are usually a lot later than the deadlines that, um, incoming students have to meet.

We have a lot of, um, good resources out there for families, and there are some new resources that we're just debuting as well, um, that will be available, um, later this week, hopefully later today, maybe tomorrow. Um, one of them is steps to complete your FAFSA, which is a great checklist here for families that lets them know exactly what they need to do to complete their FAFSA, what's needed.

Um, and they can check that off as they go and help them through the process. It talks about what happens after they submit the FAFSA. Um, and it's, it's a good handout that will be available in PDF form on our website very shortly. Um, that will be on the counselor's page and You can see that information and that's really helpful.

We have FAFSA day events available. Um, we work with the Massachusetts financial aid community, um, on FAFSA day events and students and families go to fast and day. org. They can meet one on one with. Financial aid administrators, um, counselors, mass ed co, um, helps a lot with that and me for representatives.

And we help them one on one through their problems with their FAFSAs. So we can talk to them. Help them through and with their specific issues that they're having on their fafsa, so that those are great events and there are several of those available. If you go to fafsa, families can sign up for that and meet with, um, help one-on-one.

There's also family council or webinars, um, that are available on You can see all the different ones that are coming up. There's ones on understanding Mass. state financial aid and counseling students with unique circumstances in the financial aid process. Those are recorded already and available there in the MIFA institute category for counselors.

And we also have that who needs an FSA ID graphic that's available for there. Out there in PDF form, there's a version for independent students, independent students, to help them through that process if they're trying to figure out who needs an FSA ID, um, to be a contributor on the FAFSA. So that,

Stephanie Wells: that,

Julie Shields-Rutyna: Sean, are you able to show that?

Is that a direct link? I don't know if it is or not.

Shawn Morrissey: I just thought I'd be saying

maybe not. Yeah. So let me

Stephanie Wells: I believe it's a direct link if you double click on it. Yeah, there you go. Oh, there you go. Great.

Shawn Morrissey: So this is what it looks like if you're a dependent student whose adoptive parents are married or living in the same household. It goes through, um, what that process is and then it shows the process for if the married, if the student's biological adoptive parents are divorced or separated.

It shows what that process looks like for them. Um, and again, it's who at whatever parent provides more than 50 percent of the support. If they provide equal support, um,

it goes through all of that for them.

Thank you. And then for the independent student, it shows that as well. And these are available in PDF form as well. So you can, um, put that in the PDF forms are also available in Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese. So you can download those, um, in other languages as well to help families.

And we have the upcoming webinar next week for families, um, talking. About the same issue about navigating the challenges and delays of the new FAFSA, and that's going to be next Wednesday from 4 to 5, this is during school vacation week, so hopefully students and families are available, um, if they need help, we can talk them through that process, and here's the link to register for that, again we'll be sending out copies of the These slides, you can share that with families, um, who are having difficulties and need some help.

You can share that with families and hopefully we can help them through those problems.

Stephanie Wells: And Sean, I'll say

Julie Shields-Rutyna: one more thing. If people go to MIFA. org slash events, right, it will be one of the top ones that come up. If that's an easier way to grab the link, however, you can grab the link for your students and

Stephanie Wells: families.

Yeah. Yes, I think it is the very first

Shawn Morrissey: one. Yeah, all the upcoming events are under MIFA. So now we have a few minutes left, about 15 minutes left, we can go through some questions. Are there any questions?

Stephanie Wells: Yeah, we have one saving for you, Sean, that I was stumped on, um, about the state of residency. So if you were born in state X and live in a different state for a few years, but move back to state X, what is the date of legal residency?

Shawn Morrissey: I believe that's the date that you move back. Um, so that the clock restarts when you move out of the state. Okay.

Stephanie Wells: And then the other thing I wanted to mention, you know, while folks are typing in their questions, Sean mentioned the FAFSA, FAFSA days, and they're actually have really turned into FAFSA nights virtually online.

So folks can, um. You know, log in. It's a zoom. They get put in a private zoom room with a financial aid administrator, mostly from colleges or community based organizations, and we can just answer a few quick questions. It's not only just to fill out the form. In fact, most of the folks who have joined us are really there because they've started and they have questions and we've been able to reassure them that yes, you know, the, the delay you're seeing or, or the error you're getting is, is.

You know, something that everybody's experiencing. So even if it's just to reassure them, send them our way, send them to facetoday. org and they can log into those events. And then our friends at mass ed co have locations all over the state and where they can help them in person as well. Um, and I know there was a.

event at the Boston Public Library Center a few weeks ago on a Saturday in person where they had a lot of folks join. So, you know, definitely, you know, send them to us if they have questions and, uh, definitely promote those FAFSA days because those can be helpful right about now as well. Thank you, Stephan.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: And we are committed to continuing these right now. We have them through May with FAFSA Day Massachusetts, but MIFA is just committed to continuing with our FAFSA help all, you know, all the way through the summer if needed. Um, the, you know, these delays have really set a lot of people just behind in their plans for next year.

So we are committed to doing everything we can to help you and help you. Students and families, um, Sean, we, you showed that beautiful flow chart, um, but a counselor is, you showed it and then you said it was in the three languages. One counselor is having trouble seeing it in English. I, is it a, is there an easy way to show everyone how,

Stephanie Wells: that's great.

Let me just click on that.

If you, uh, click on the school counselor page, there's a really good link right there too, Sean. Let me just click on that,

Shawn Morrissey: let's see.

How do we get it in English?

Stephanie Wells: If you click on the, yeah, there you go.

Sean, if you go to the top and click on the school counselor page, it's right, it's right there, all the PDFs are right there. Yep, here we go. There you go. So there's the online format and then the PDFs are all there in a few different languages. Thank you. Yeah, so

Shawn Morrissey: there it is in

Stephanie Wells: English. Great.

And that's, that's a really helpful, helpful form that, uh, Sean and some of our colleagues put together in the fall when we couldn't do FAFSAs right away in October. And, um, this was helpful, at least to get people applying for the FSE IDs earlier.

I don't see any other questions coming in, but feel free to type them in if you want to stay another minute.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: We will, we will be sending this recording, sending the slides. And, um, do share to feel free to share widely

and know that we're in this together. And we, we, yesterday, being with the college administrators, we felt very much, um. In it with them to as far as the flexibility

Stephanie Wells: they talked about. Yeah, and I guess I speaking of the college of mysteries. We had 1 question about, um, you know, what what they're thinking and they're very much along the same lines as our school counselor friends and set me for about, you know, very concerned about the populations that.

Aren't able to submit right now and might, you know, fall through the cracks such as students families who might not have an SSN things like that. And so they're very concerned about those issues as as well and equity issues regarding that. And they're definitely going to be, you know, flexible, they want to hear from those students if they need extensions things like that.

They're as concerned as we are about. All of the students, all of those students and

Julie Shields-Rutyna: one counselor just asked a question that I'm glad because we have not addressed this and this is a big thing. So I'll I'll read the question, Sean, which seems like such a reasonable question and would have a reasonable answer, but it doesn't what is the best way for someone to contact FAFSA, which would be, you know, federal student aid to make sure their form is being processed in case they haven't heard back for a while and they want to make sure it's been sent.

Shawn Morrissey: So it's, it's, unfortunately, it's pretty difficult to, um, get through to FSA through the phone right now, but if they are able to log in to their, um, account on studentaid. gov with their FSA ID, they should be able to see that the, um, FAFSA is in a process of in review. Um, if they do see that it's in review.

That means that it has been sent and it will be processed in early March. Um, or as soon as they'll begin processing those in early March and it will process as soon as they are able to get to that in order. Um, so they should be able to see the status on, um, StudentAid. gov. They're about. That they have submitted their FAFSA and that it is an in an in review status So they should be able to see that even if they didn't receive an email We are hearing from some families that they are submitting the FAFSA And not receiving the confirmation email that has been submitted, but they can see that in review status on their studentaid.

gov account when they log in with their FSA ID. And they would have to log in with the student's FSA ID to see the status of that, um, that form. Um, if they log in with the parent's FSA ID, they can only see the status of the parent portion of The FAFSA that was submitted. They won't be able to see what the student status is.

So it's important to file to look in the students FSA ID to see about that.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: Thank you, Sean. And I think this does bring up an important point too, is that this is so, so scary for students, as you know, they're coming to you all the time. And, you know, they're, they're feeling worried about everything, especially because their FAFSA isn't processed yet.

But I guess just what we're trying to do when we have students calling us, parents calling us, is just explaining that everyone is in the same boat. You know, no school has received any information from anyone. Um, and that will continue on though as some FAFSAs begin to be processed and students are still having problems.

I think this issue will go on for a little while. But again, being able to explain that You're going to keep helping them, we're going to keep helping them, and they should, you know, they can be in touch with the institutions at that point later in the spring, and that this

Stephanie Wells: will, will

Julie Shields-Rutyna: come together, um, as, but it's just taking some time, but having students understand it's not them, in many cases, in many cases it is that, the system, um, so, yeah, I think we can all, we can all help with that, because I know personally I've talked to a lot of very anxious

Stephanie Wells: students about all this.

So, and there are families that do need to call FSA to get a FSA ID retrieval or something like that, where they actually have to speak to a live person and they've been having trouble getting through. Um, and there's no way to wait on hold or, you know, be put in a queue. They just get hung up on. So it's, it's been tough, um, trying to get in touch with them, but hopefully as things get processed, the backlog and the, Wait times will go down.

Um, so that's been a struggle for sure.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: Well, thank you. Someone just asked a question about taxes and, you know, Sean, I don't know if it's worth mentioning. You said this at the beginning about the positives of the simplification and how that integration with the IRS is making things simpler. I don't know if you want to say a word about that

Shawn Morrissey: too.

Yeah, so with the integration directly with IRS to um, and this is what's causing a lot of families to have some confusion that they they miss something is that once they give consent on the FAFSA and they have no problems matching with the IRS that information just Goes in automatically. This parent student doesn't have to do anything else, and they don't see that that process is happening with the old IRS data retrieval tool.

They were more active in that process where they could see the information coming in from the IRS. Now it's just happening all behind the scenes. Um, and it makes it really quite easy for families when it works. Um, and it's happening automatically. And so families Are thinking that they missed doing all the financial questions, but what's happening is the process is just working.

Um, So hopefully that's what most families will experience going forward. Um, now that that's working and there was a question whether the IRS data is going to be sent to schools at the same time as the rest of the ice or data that is processed beginning in early March. And yes, that's all going to be Transmitted to schools at the same time.

So the schools will receive their IRS data with the rest of the FAFSA question data that is being processed at the same time

Stephanie Wells: and Sean before we go, just got a question about the great sheet that's in front of us on the screen. We will have a new landing page as well as links to this document. It's not live yet.

So this is just a preview, but we will It should be up maybe today or tomorrow, but we'll definitely be including that in the counselor emails promoting this new resource. So just keep an eye on it, but it's not quite live yet. Um, so it should be maybe today or tomorrow, but we'll let you know once it's available.

Well, if

Julie Shields-Rutyna: there are no more questions, I guess we will allow you to go on with your day. We know your days are busy. Um, uh, school vacation is coming up. Enjoy. And, um, please know, at the risk of sounding like High School Musical, we're all in this together. And, um, we're here to help. Stay in touch. Let it let us know what what what we can do for you and, um, enjoy.

Enjoy your day. And thank you, Sean. Thank you, Stephanie. And thank you all for your terrific questions to help to help all of us move

Stephanie Wells: move forward in this. Thanks, everybody. Have a great day. Thank you, everyone.

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