New FAFSA now available for families of college-aged students

Explaining the new FAFSA process

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — If you’ve got a student in college or heading there this fall, it’s time to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA.

This year, the process is new and the form is different. It should be easier for families but as News10NBC has been reporting, the roll-out out of the new site has been a bit shaky.

Typically, families can start filling out the FAFSA in October but the U.S. Department of Education had to get the new system up and running, and the revamped FAFSA didn’t go live until the end of 2023. The site was only available for a few hours each day initially but now it appears to be working at full capacity. 

David Buyan is a senior at Rochester Early College International High School.

“I was born and raised in Rochester, my mom is originally from Turkey. So, she’s not from here. So, as a first generation college student and also a first generation American, the college application process was very new to me,” he tells News10NBC. 

Right now, he’s in the middle of that process.

“I knew the FAFSA existed, but I didn’t really know how much aid it can give you until I really sat down with my counselor and talked about,” Buyan says.

He filed out his FAFSA on Tuesday at the first of a number of “FAFSA Fest” events being held at Rochester City School District High Schools. Counselors sit with students and their parents to fill out the form — which is now only 36 questions compared to the previous 108. 

The new FAFSA has rolled out slowly over the last several days and there have been some glitches, but now it appears the site is working fairly smoothly for families.

“Yesterday, there were no issues with the website. Everyone was able to get full access, no hiccups there,” says Janee Slade, the Director of College Access Initiatives at the Rochester Education Foundation. 

The sooner you fill out the FAFSA, the better. Because the switch to a new system has already put colleges and universities behind in the admissions process.

“If you are looking to be a freshman in the fall, and you are looking at multiple colleges, it is going to tighten that timetable for you, because now colleges aren’t going to get that info until late January —which is going to delay financial aid offers from colleges,” says Toby Dye, the Director of Financial Aid at Nazareth University.

Buyan is waiting to see which schools will offer him the best financial aid package.

“I applied to Buffalo, but my top choice is the University of Rochester. So, we’ll see,” he says anxiously.