San Antonio universities start to receive student FAFSA data from Department of Education

Priority deadline for student financial aid applications in Texas is April 15.

SAN ANTONIO – Cristen Alicea, the director of financial assistance at the University of the Incarnate Word, said she couldn’t help but dance when she received the first round of student aid data from the Department of Education.

“I think I jumped up and stuck my hands up in the air,” Alicea said. “Because it’s like, finally, we’ve got that first big step of data.”

After months of delays, the Department of Education began rolling out data to colleges and universities nationwide from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Congress mandated the redesigned FAFSA application in 2020. The goal was to streamline the financial aid form and make college more accessible to families across America, including San Antonio.

“I think at the end of the day, it is good for students and it’s good for families,” Alicea said. “It’s just going to be a rocky transition until it all gets worked out.”

The new FAFSA form, a streamlined application, has come with a rocky rollout. Advisers from UTSA, Alamo Colleges District and UIW told KSAT 12 in January that there were multiple glitches through its soft launch, including identification problems and long waiting rooms.

Now, in March, Alicea said most problems have been addressed. Her greatest concern lies in students with mixed family status.

“The process for creating their FSA ID is still not fully working,” Alicea said. “They have to go through a verification process. A lot of them are having to call the Department of Education to get through the process or submit an attestation of identity.”

Ana Acevedo, the San Antonio Education Partnership’s executive director, said her Cafe College team has been working to help students address these concerns.

“We’re seeing things that we haven’t seen before,” Acevedo said. “This has been like no other FAFSA season. Our biggest concern right now is that some students or a large number of students will be discouraged.”

The Department of Education has reported that significantly fewer students have applied this year compared to a typical year. Ordinarily, students and families can start filling out the form in the fall. But the new application didn’t soft launch this year until late December.

One month is left before the priority deadline in Texas for submitting a state financial aid application. That date is April 15.

About the Author

Avery Everett is a news reporter and multimedia journalist at KSAT 12 News. Avery is a Philadelphia native. If she’s not at the station, she’s either on a hiking or biking trail. A lover of charcuterie boards and chocolate chip cookies, Avery’s also looking forward to eating her way through San Antonio, one taco shop at a time!

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