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Kent State sends out financial aid offers

A student looks over financial aid resources in the One Stop office located in the Kent campus library. (File photo)

After months of delays, Kent State is sending financial aid offers to students.

Typically, the University Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid sends offers to returning students starting in December. This year, the department could not roll out offers until after spring grades were posted in May. Incoming students typically see offers by May 1, known as Decision Day, but the university changed that deadline to June 1.

Brenda Burke, the associate vice president for Scholarships and Financial Aid, said the department had to push back deadlines after the rollout of a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid was mired in complications.

“It’s kind of like building a house,” Burke said. “The implementation plan is always the difficult part.”

The FAFSA relaunch was an effort more than four years in the making that started as a goal to make the application process smoother for students and their families. The relaunch also sought to increase student eligibility, according to the Department of Education.

Typically, students can begin filling out the form for the next academic year in October. The 2024-2025 form launched in January.

Despite behind the scenes work to prepare for the overhaul, a buggy launch disrupted the usually streamlined process of the Department of Education sharing student FAFSA information with colleges and universities.

“There was a three-month period where students were submitting information, and the schools didn’t get anything at all,” Burke said.

This delay forced many incoming students to make college decisions without financial aid packages. Returning students, like Shandi Putzbach, a senior music education and performance major, started their summers not knowing how much to save for their fall bills or if they would need to take out private loans.

“It is a little nerve-racking,” Putzbach said. “It’s just hard to make a plan.”

Putzbach said she filed the FAFSA form shortly after it opened. As of June, she has had to refile the application and has yet to receive aid offers.

Putzbach said she is not a fan of the new FAFSA, and she worries she may be left with a bigger bill than previous years. Last year, she paid around $600 a month as part of a tuition payment plan.

While students have until June 30, 2025, to file their FAFSA application, Burke said completing the form early is crucial for timely scholarships. The form also allows students to qualify for federal and state grants and subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

Burke said the primary reason the Department of Education sends the form back to students is because they are not reading the new questions fully. In the past, the form had more than 100 questions, now it has less than 50.

Despite the worries, Burke is encouraging students to fill out their FAFSA forms. This year, she said 24% more students are eligible for a Pell Grant, a federal subsidy limited to students with exceptional financial need.

While more people have filled out the FAFSA form for Kent than last year, Burke said there is still an 8% lag in year-to-date incoming and returning students filing the form. She added that 72% of Kent students qualify for some form of federal aid.

For more information on financial aid, visit the Financial, Billing and Enrollment Center, formerly known as One Stop. 

Alton Northup is editor-in-chief. Contact him at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Alton Northup
Alton Northup, Editor-in-Chief
Alton is a rising senior majoring in journalism. His seventh semester with KentWired, this is his first as editor-in-chief. He previously served as a reporter and campus editor. He enjoys finding stories that impact the community and helping student journalists reach their potential. Contact him at [email protected]

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