A Drastic Drop In Submitted FAFSA Applications May Signal Somber Future For Higher Education


Two young college students reading through a textbook while sitting together at a table in computer class

Experts are concerned about the amount of federal student aid applications that have been submitted, and they may have reason to be worried.

The Hill reports that there has been a sharp drop in Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application submissions, which means that more prospective college students may miss out on funding assistance for their education and other school-related costs. The deadline to apply in June 30. Around this time of year, the usual applicant submission reached around 17 million. This time, only 5.7 million have applied.

“I do think that because the FAFSA became available so much later than it did in a normal year and there were so many glitches at the beginning of the process that needed to be resolved, some of those folks who would normally file a FAFSA earlier in the process may have decided to set it aside temporarily,” Karen McCarthy, vice president for public policy and federal relations at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators per the outlet.

Black Enterprise also points out that the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) saw a 34 percent decrease in FAFSA applications from high school seniors compared to the prior year.

Delayed data transmissions to schools may be the cause for the significant decrease in applicant submissions. There has also been heightened distrust in the benefit higher education serves as student loan debt continues to soar and the US labor market flounders.

As ESSENCE previously reported, Intelligent.com’s Nov. 29 report found that forty-five percent of companies plan to eliminate bachelor’s degree requirements for some roles starting next year.

“Due to the expense of attending college, earning a bachelor’s degree is generally more difficult for people from traditionally marginalized groups and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds,” Diane Gayeski, higher education advisor for Intelligent.com and professor of strategic communication at Ithaca College, said in a statement.

She adds: “If a student’s parents didn’t attend college or if they are from outside the U.S., it can be much more difficult to know how to navigate applying to colleges and finding scholarships and other resources,” she said. “Eliminating a bachelor’s degree can open jobs up to individuals who weren’t able to attend college.”


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