Nebraska school trying to prepare students for “curveball” in FASFA application process

Dec. 6, 2023, 4 p.m. ·

Jacob Eitzen teaches math
(Photo by Jolie Peal/Nebraska Public Media News)

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Every year, Lexington High School faculty curates a day geared toward helping students achieve their post-graduation goals. For some students, that means filling out college applications and starting The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

However, next year’s FAFSA is delayed due to changes required by the FAFSA Simplification Act. Typically, the application is available on Oct. 1. This year, the U.S. Department of Education announced the form will come out by Dec. 31.

One of the changes is that students and their parents or guardians will fill out their parts of the form separately, using separate accounts.

Jodi Vanden Berge is the Kearney director of college planning and outreach services for EducationQuest, a Nebraska non-profit that helps students with the college process. She said getting the FSA ID created now can make filling out the form easier when it’s released.

“The process will be much smoother if they apply for that FSA ID now, get it verified with Social Security Administration,” Vanden Berge said. “Then, when the FAFSA opens, they'll be able to go right in and do their form.”

Vanden Berge said the FSA ID can take up to three days to be verified.

At Lexington High School, the school and EducationQuest representatives helped students create their FSA ID.

Joel Lemus, one of three guidance counselors at Lexington High School, said he worries the delay with the FAFSA will cause issues for students who are applying for scholarships that require the FAFSA, like the Susan T. Buffett Scholarship.

“They’re barriers, or they're curveballs, but we really try to implement things and programs so that they don't become permanent barriers for our kids,” Lemus said.

The FAFSA portion of the Susan T. Buffett Scholarship application is due March 15, while the rest is due on Feb. 1.

Lemus said there will be EducationQuest representatives at Lexington High School on certain days in January to give families one-on-one help with the FAFSA.