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Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

FAFSA information packages release date delayed to mid-March

Photo by Cheyenne Ruch
Outside the Office of Student Accounts on the first floor of Thayer Hall.

On Jan. 30, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) announced that colleges would not receive student’s financial aid applications until mid-March, rather than the typical October release. 

George Santucci, Point Park’s Director of Financial Aid, said that “nothing has changed” on the university’s end and that he is hopeful that the university will be able to handle the delay without issue.  

“It’s a difficulty because it’s late; we normally notify students in October or November as far as incoming freshmen students are concerned, so that they have time to make a decision,” Santucci said. “However, our hands are tied. There’s nothing we can do until we receive the information from the federal government.”  

Marlin Collingwood, the Vice President of Enrollment Management, is confident that Point Park will not see any major impact on enrollment numbers due to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) setback.  

Collingwood said the delay will mostly affect students and their families who feel in the dark about what their financial aid package will look like.

“The reality is, there’s not a student in America that has their full financial aid package; I think it’s important for high school seniors and their families to breathe,” Collingwood said. “There’s still time to make a decision.”

Collingwood said that the university has given out all merit scholarships, so students can start to make plans around that. As of right now, Collingwood said there are no plans to push back the May 1 deposit deadline, securing an incoming student’s spot. 

Unlike most schools, Point Park is flexible with deposit deadlines, typically accepting deposits over the summer, according to Collingwood, giving prospective students and their families some extra time to make their decision.  

Collingwood has been in conversation with counterparts at other schools who are worried about the delay, but he said the university does not share that fear.

“Our financial aid office is in really good shape; we have a staff and director who know this inside and out and are always thinking of students first,” Collingwood said. “Once we get the information, I’m confident we can get the packages out in a timely way, but it’s going to be a lot of work.” 

The segment of students who are going to be affected the most by the delay are students who are fully “Pell eligible,” meaning they are in the lowest income bracket.  

According to studentaid.gov, federal Pell grants, unlike loans, do not need to be paid off, except under extenuating circumstances. Pell eligible students make up 20% of incoming Point Park students, according to the Office of Admissions.  

Current students do not need to worry about the delays, but there are many who have strong opinions about the FAFSA overall. 

Cheyenne Cherry, a Ph.D critical psychology student, said she is anxious for students and their families who may be new to the FAFSA process. 

“The FAFSA on its own is annoying and causes anxiety for me when I do it every year, so the fact that it’s delayed, especially for incoming students who have never experienced the FAFSA before, I can’t imagine what they’re feeling,” Cherry said. 

Cherry said she is “concerned” already for incoming students because of the cost of higher education.

“One thing I’m really concerned about is the fact that education is inaccessible for many already,” Cherry said. “It’s promising that a lot of students want to go to college and get an education, despite the challenges, let alone the FAFSA making it even harder.”

Deidre Cronin, a sophomore screenwriting major, remembers what it was like for her and her family when she applied for financial aid. 

“My parents and I were kind of lost because we weren’t really familiar with the process. It was really complicated in the sense that there was a lot of waiting for little reward,” Cronin said. “I was sort of left to apply for other scholarships, since I wanted to go to college out of state.” 

Collingwood said that he is not worried that the FAFSA delay will affect Point Park’s enrollment numbers. Open house attendance has seen an 87% increase, visits to campus have increased by nearly 50%, and applications and admissions are rising as well. 

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