Yet another FAFSA problem: Many noncitizens can’t fill it out

In reporting this story, NPR spoke with households, counselors and advocates who shared comparable issues. Amongst these impacted are everlasting residents, inexperienced card holders or undocumented mother and father with out a Social Safety quantity.

For the reason that type opened in January, Azer, Cordova Ramirez and her mother have tried to finish the net utility greater than 20 instances. Every time, they get the identical error message, directing them to a telephone quantity for any questions.

“We’ve known as the quantity. They don’t have any options for us,” says Azer. After they name, they get an automatic message that gives outdated and outdated data. When she’s fortunate sufficient to get a reside particular person on the road, usually after ready on maintain for hours, they inform her to strive filling out the shape once more later.

“Do you perceive how irritating that’s?” she says. “You act like we now have on a regular basis on the earth to simply sit down and be like ‘Ah, time to use for the FAFSA proper now.”

Following NPR’s reporting, the U.S. Training Division stated it was conscious of the issue and that workers have been assembly every day to resolve it. They really helpful that college students with mother and father who aren’t residents ought to wait to fill out the shape on-line, however have been unable to supply any timeline for the repair.

It’s the newest in a sequence of problems with the FAFSA this year. The form rolled out months late, setting faculties scrambling to get monetary assist packages out in time. Even with the additional time to get it appropriate, NPR reported recently on a technicality the division neglected – doubtlessly costing college students virtually $2 billion.

Considerations about unhealthy recommendation

The implications of this newest downside are enormous, stopping households from getting important entry to cash for school, and even making knowledgeable enrollment selections about how a lot a university schooling will price them.

Within the meantime, there have been troubling studies of doubtless dangerous workarounds – like asking college students to take pictures of their mother and father’ passports and e mail them to the Ed Division.

“To start with, that assumes [the parents] have one,” says Invoice Quick, who runs a scholarship program for first-generation college students at Saint Lawrence College in Canton, N.Y. Past that, he provides, it raises severe considerations about on-line privateness:

“Emailing a delicate doc like that’s about as insecure because it will get. You may as effectively make [the required paperwork] right into a paper airplane and toss it out the window.”

The lengthy wait continues

The Training Division didn’t reply to repeated requests for touch upon the timetable for a repair, or in regards to the studies of households being instructed to ship pictures of their passports by way of e mail.

In previous years, the overall steerage with FAFSA has been for college students to finish it as quickly as potential. Amid the present delays, some universities have pushed again enrollment deadlines from the standard Might 1 to June 1, whereas others have made their deposits refundable.

In the meantime, the frustrations are mounting for college students and their households as they watch “everyone else get a head begin on you,” says Quick.

“You’re nonetheless standing within the beginning line ready for somebody to say, ‘OK, now you’ll be able to go,’ ” he provides. “Your notion is: ‘By the point I lastly get there, they’re going to cross the end line, and the cash’s going to be gone.’ ”

Cordova Ramirez feels that frustration deeply.

“I’ve carried out every part,” she says. “I’ve taken the extracurriculars. I’ve tried to make an excellent utility for myself for faculties to be like, ‘Sure, that’s somebody we would like.’”

Every single day, she asks herself the identical questions, time and again: “Am I going [to college] now? Am I going to the college that I would like? Am I going to pursue the profession that I would like? Am I going to be one thing in life?”

Audio produced by: Janet Woojeong Lee and Mallory Yu
Edited by: Steve Drummond

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