Local high school grads still in limbo over FAFSA fiasco

PITTSBURGH — Some local high school graduates remain in limbo with their college plans, as problems with the federal student aid process persist.

Channel 11 previously reported on the various issues students nationwide have faced, after FAFSA, standing for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, was overhauled.

>> National College Decision Day delayed by many colleges, universities due to issue with FAFSA form

“They just say it’s delayed, and then it’s delayed... You don’t really know when, specifically, you’re going to get that back,” said Brandon Brazell, 18, of McKees Rocks.

As of mid-June, Brazell still hasn’t received all of the necessary aid information he needs in order to commit to a college.

“I’m not gonna make a rash decision on where I want to go if I can’t afford it. Affording it is a big piece for us,” he said.

The recent graduate hopes to play baseball in college, and some coaches have already told him he’s missed the cut by not committing.

He’s narrowed down his choices and hopes to be able to make a final decision soon.

“I feel like it’s of course unfair, but you gotta just look at the positives of it. I mean, maybe I would have made a bad decision if I would have made a decision earlier, but... You don’t know.”

He said most of the schools he’s applied to have pushed back their commitment dates.

The FAFSA problem has proved challenging for schools, too. Experts have predicted “catastrophic” college declines because of the troubled rollout.

Channel 11 reached out to Carlow University, which isn’t anticipating an enrollment drop.

“We were one of the first schools in the region to say ‘we don’t need your decision by May 1, let’s push it to June 1. But, because we’re rolling admissions, we’re still working with students, and there are students that don’t have financial aid packages from all of their institutions, and they need that to make a decision,” said Mollie Cecere, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Corporate Partnerships.

Cecere said that they have been able to issue financial aid packages to all students who have received their FAFSA information.

She said that the university has been dedicated to helping families through this “unprecedented” situation.

“Carlow’s response has been truly who Carlow is: completely aligned with our mission. We’ve responded to students with mercy, compassion, with empathy,” Cecere told us. “Their frustrations are our frustrations, but we’ve taken a very personalized approach, so, meeting with students one on one, bringing them in here to help them make a correction, or talk them through a deadline, or something like that. So that’s really been our approach overall, just working with each student and each family.”

Channel 11 also reached out to Slippery Rock University to see how they’ve made adjustments for families. We were told that the enrollment deadline was pushed from May 1 to May 15, to provide students with more time.

“While official census enrollment data will not be available until September, SRU is expecting the third consecutive year of growing new first-year student enrollment. This is the result of our market-driven, in-demand academic program offerings, a student-centric experience, and the lowest billable costs of any four-year school in Western Pennsylvania,” said Michael May, Vice President for Enrollment Management.

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