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What is FAFSA?

As seniors begin planning on whether to attend college and university, they begin to fill out the FAFSA form. The FAFSA form has become a staple to high schools in California, as it is a part of the State Budget Act. The FAFSA application is a high school requirement that students fill out, either as early as October, and has a deadline towards the end of March, but it could be extended to the beginning of May. The acronym FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and essentially, filling out a form makes students eligible for student financial aid regarding federal grants, work-study grants, and loans. It is better to begin your application as early as possible, however, as you can potentially gain more financial aid for your education. 

To fill out your FAFSA application, students need to create an account for themselves and their parents, with the inclusion of their IRS income tax returns from the previous two years. This information is required to provide the government with information to understand your financial circumstances and determine your need for assistance. 


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Benefits of FAFSA 

Filling out the FAFSA application comes with financial benefits, aside from allowing you to graduate high school. Submitting the FAFSA form gives the student access to the largest form of financial aid a student can receive, as the money comes from the government. 

One of the benefits of applying for FAFSA is that the funds earned can go to a student’s college, university, and trade school payments. As long as a student is pursuing further education, a student is granted a finite amount of funds. The FAFSA funds are versatile in their use, as they could help you with many matters.

The expenses that the FAFSA can cover are loans, tuition fees, housing, food, books and supplies, and if needed, transportation. 

The maximum amount of money the government can give you with the FAFSA application is up to $7,395 per school year, from a direct subsidized loan. Eligibility to gain that much money is crucial to a low-income student pursuing further education. 

It’s worth mentioning that a downside to the FAFSA is that if a student drops out of any educational field, they are required to repay all unearned financial aid funds they received. 


Recurrent problems with FAFSA 

In recent times, the FAFSA portal has faced some issues, concerning its error tendencies, lag, and has even confused several students. One of the most common errors, which could potentially be to grim portal design, is that every time you enter the portal, the student is required to agree to terms, as well as resubmit information that was previously filled out. Despite it being a minor error, it has been irritating for students as it wastes time. Another issue with the application is that, when confirming contact information, the message sent to the designated email or phone number takes a fair bit of time to send, and at times doesn’t send at all. 

Some small issues include schools not showing up, spouse contributor invitation pages don’t appear, and sometimes parents aren’t able to access their end of the application, resulting in prolonging the entire process. 

These issues have taken a toll on students, so much so that counselors in charge of aiding students in the application process have changed the requirements last minute. They only require students to at least fill out their end of the portal so that students complete their graduation requirements. 



The first person we interviewed was Senior Irving Arcos. We started off the interview by asking him what improvements could be added to the FAFSA portal. Irving answered, by stating that the application should contain “…more clarifying information on how to complete the FAFSA”, due to him having trouble figuring out how to invite his parents to the portal. But aside from that, he was able to complete it in less than an hour. Some pointers he gave to upcoming seniors is to “Do it as soon as you are able to”, as removing it off of your shoulders can alleviate some stress. 

Following up, we interviewed counselor Mr. Calderon, who’s been in the College and Community Center helping students complete their FAFSA applications. Some struggles he encountered were when it came to helping students they were not able to complete it due to the parents not having their social security numbers. Even when they managed to get past this step, the students had limited access, hindering the process even more. We then asked him “What is one piece of advice he’d give to incoming seniors?”, to which he responded, “…to start collecting their parents’ 2023 tax paperwork, and putting it aside for easy access”. 

We then interviewed Senior, Phillip Chopin. We asked him if he had any problems with FAFSA he said, “ Yeah I have, it takes forever to do. “ Something he would like to improve is making it easier to understand. His overall experience was confusing. It took Chopin the entire FAFSA period to do. A piece of advice Phillip can give to incoming seniors is “Just keep asking questions and finish it as fast as possible. “ 

Lastly, we interviewed Senior, Teddy Hughes. One problem he encountered was his parents’ information needing to be put in first. Teddy said he would not change anything because he’s done with it and hes’ never doing it again. Hughes said, “ I encountered so many problems I could not get passed until Mr. Calderon helped me out.” He says a piece of advice he would give to incoming seniors is “ Do it two months before its due and not the week before because thats what I did and I highly regret turning it in last week and being stressed out.” 

All the issues aside, the FAFSA is an important application to fill out. For the upcoming seniors, take the advice to heart and prepare for your future after high school. 


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Miguel Viveros
Miguel Viveros is a senior looking forward to his first year of journalism. He is a writer who’s looking to improve his writing skills, as well as to learn how to properly interview and what questions to ask.
In his free time, Miguel enjoys listening to music and playing video games with friends. However, his favorite thing to do is taking after-school naps.
Abel Peralta
Senior Abel Peralta is excited to start his first year of journalism as a photographer. Abel will be taking pictures for journalism during events and film interviews.   When Abel is outside of school he enjoys boxing and going to his boxing gym to train. Abel also enjoys listening to music and relaxing at home.
Michelle Abarca
Freshman Michelle Abarca is excited to join her first year in journalism. She decided to join journalism to try something new, her goal is to promote Paw Prints and spread media.
When Michelle isn't focused on school, she likes to hangout with her friends, bake, and be outside.
Alexa Cabrera
Junior Alexa Cabrera is excited for her second year of Journalism. Alexa is looking forward to promoting Journalism all over social media. When Alexa is not coming up with new ideas she enjoys spending time with family, watching Netflix, and going out to new places.

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