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Experts fear ‘catastrophic’ college collapse due to botched FAFSA implementation



WASHINGTON (AP) – The very last thing standing between Ashnaelle Bijoux and her college dream is the FAFSA form, a financial aid application that was supposed to help students get into college, but is as an alternative blocking her. She tried to report it over and over. It fails each time.

“I feel overwhelmed and stressed,” Bijoux, 19, said. The last time she tried this kind, she was close to tears. “I feel like I’m being held back.”

This spring, often a time of celebration for prime school graduates, was marred by the federal government’s botched rollout of the brand new FAFSA application. By May 1, students often know where they are going to go to college in the autumn. This 12 months, most still haven’t received financial aid offers. Three months before fall classes start, many individuals do not know where they are going to study or how they are going to pay for it.

“We are asking them to make perhaps one of their most important financial decisions – and the decisions that will have the greatest consequences for their future lives – without all the information,” said Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, has undergone a significant overhaul to make it simpler and shorter. But a series of mistakes by the Department of Education have made this tougher than ever, delaying college decisions for months and raising fears that a whole lot of hundreds of scholars will drop out of college altogether.

Across the United States, the number of scholars passing the FAFSA is down 29% from this time last 12 months, according to the National College Attainment Network, and the situation is even worse in schools with more low-income students. National College Attainment Network data.

Ashnaelle Bijoux poses on campus, Saturday, April 27, 2024, at Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, Connecticut. Bijoux, an NFA senior, was unable to complete the FAFSA due to a glitch with the shape. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

The group’s CEO, Kim Cook, warned members of Congress this month of a potentially “catastrophic” decline in college enrollment that may make the pandemic decline appear mild.

According to Bijoux, of Norwich, Conn., FAFSA problems threaten to undermine the guarantees of upper education.

College is a probability for her to make the most of opportunities that weren’t available to her mother, who emigrated from Haiti to the United States as an adult. Bijoux hopes to change into a therapist and set a positive example for her three younger brothers.

If her FAFSA passes, she should qualify for enough financial aid to cover her $13,000-a-year tuition at Southern Connecticut State University. If not, she will be able to go to a area people college, but even that can require loans if she will be able to’t complete the FAFSA.

“That’s why it hurts, because you work so hard to go somewhere and do something and do something for yourself,” Bijoux said. “I believed I’d start at a four-year college after which work hard like I’ve done all my life. But it is not like that.”

The updated FAFSA form includes one section accomplished by students and one other by their parents. But when Bijoux finishes her part, nothing appears on her mother’s online account. He keeps trying, but nothing seems to change.

Similar problems have been reported across the country, together with many other errors that the Department of Education has sought to correct. Families calling customer support face long wait times or say the decision center has hung up on them.

“It sucks out all the momentum” for families trying to send their children to college, especially those that are combating the method for the primary time, said Anne Zinn, a counselor at Norwich Free Academy, where Bijoux attends school.

“I can only say, ‘Just be patient, just be patient,’ so many times before they throw up their hands and say, ‘Why am I doing this?’ I’ll just do it go discover a job,'” she said.

The implementation has faced bipartisan criticism in Congress and is being investigated on the request of Republicans. Last week, Richard Cordray, the federal student loan chief who oversaw the FAFSA update, announced he would step down at the tip of June.

Delays also pose a serious threat to universities.

Enrollment declines similar to those currently projected may lead to the collapse of many small colleges or require deep staff cuts. Some colleges are clamoring for emergency aid to stay afloat, said Angel Pérez, CEO of the National Association of College Admissions Counseling.

“If they don’t get checks from the federal government that would basically get them through next year, they won’t survive,” Pérez said.

Five people were injured in the shooting at Morgan State University
An indication for Morgan State University, October 4, 2023, in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) Source: Photo:Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The FAFSA has been a mainstay of student financial aid for many years. It is used to determine eligibility for the federal Pell Grant, grants for low-income students, and is required for federal student loans. Colleges and states also use the FAFSA to distribute their very own scholarships.

The FAFSA has long been maligned for being boring, difficult and intimidating for families without college experience. Congress passed laws in 2020 to simplify the shape. The Department of Education was ordered to reduce the variety of questions from greater than 100 to about 40 and alter the formula to extend help to more students.

Problems began to mount as soon as the brand new form went online in December, which was already several months late.

The first applications were incorrectly processed using outdated inflation calculations. A federal contractor later incorrectly calculated a distinct formula on greater than 200,000 claims. Each error caused delays, requiring students to wait longer for any financial aid information.

Even more troubling is a bug that prevented students from completing the shape if their parent didn’t have a Social Security number. Supporters say the system has excluded a whole lot of hundreds of scholars who’re U.S. residents or everlasting residents but whose parents should not.

The Department of Education announced Tuesday that it’s offering parents a brand new way to manually enter tax information. However, this week, some students reported that they were still unable to submit the shape.

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Federal education officials say they’re addressing persistent errors but are making progress. The agency said greater than 8 million student applications have already been processed and sent to universities, and latest applications are processed inside three days.

However, the wait isn’t over yet. It often takes several weeks for schools to prepare financial aid offers. Some universities have prolonged decision deadlines to give students more time to consider their options. Some, nonetheless, stuck to May 1, forcing students to select a college and make a non-refundable payment to keep their place, without knowing all of the scholarship opportunities available to them.

In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency on Tuesday that permits students to receive state scholarships without the federal government having to process their FAFSA. West Virginia has the bottom college graduation rate within the nation, and the state’s FAFSA highschool graduation rate is now down nearly 40%, said Justice, a Republican.

“There’s really loads of kids sitting on the sidelines wondering, ‘Will I have the ability to go to college?’ – he said during a press conference.

In Baltimore, Camryn Carter waits to discover whether he can get a full ride to the University of Maryland or whether he faces tens of hundreds of dollars in student loans.

Carter, a top student and captain of his baseball and wrestling teams, sees college as a step in his life. He thinks back to the times he stood in line on the food market and had to put things back on the shelf because his mother couldn’t afford to pay the bill. The 18-year-old said graduating would give him stability he didn’t all the time have.

But when he looks at tuition, it’s intimidating. In addition to Maryland, he can also be considering McDaniel College, a non-public school in Maryland. If he enrolls there, he expects to borrow nearly $30,000 a 12 months.

“I try to make the best decisions now to ensure a good future,” he said. “I’m a little nervous that something won’t work out. But I am faithful.”

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National No Child Care Day: DC should not balance its budget at the expense of our children




As a mother and community organizer, I look to my children and others to see the hopes and guarantees for his or her future. I’m also keenly aware of the importance of systems that promote the health and well-being of our children, which makes DC Budget cuts proposed by Mayor Muriel Bowser to the child welfare system, which is the cornerstone of every child’s well-being at an early stage of development, which is deeply disturbing to me and other parents and social activists.

The work of child care providers has been economically devalued since: the days when enslaved African women forcibly raised white children. Bowser’s budget cuts reinforce the slavery-era belief that black and brown child care employees do not deserve fair wages. These women are the invisible backbone of American communities and economies. They deserve a salary that can provide them with an honest standard of living. The DC Mayor and Council should put money into our children the same way they put money into millionaires. That’s why we’re working tirelessly to stop this from happening again.

May 13 is National Day Without Child Care (DWOCC), a day for child care providers to advocate for our government systems to create cheaper and accessible child care. As proud members of the Raising Child Care Fund, we are going to focus our efforts today on urging Mayor Bowser to say no to harmful cuts to the child care budget.

On April 3, Mayor Bowser proposed a budget for fiscal 12 months 2025 that eliminates it entirely Early Childhood Education Equalization Fund. The Pay Equality Fund (PEF) was established in 2021 under birth law for 3 years for all DC residents enacted in 2018. This program proposed everlasting funding to assist offer direct payments to child care professionals and employers to bring child care employees’ wages and advantages in step with their colleagues in the DC public school system.

In 2019, before the National Federation of Feedbackers DC Average Income was $15.36 for a babysitter in comparison with $33.10 for a preschool teacher and $44.16 per hour for an elementary school teacher. The implementation of the Pay Equity Fund in 2022 and 2023 has helped fill this gap paying $80 million to over 4,000 preschool teachers and their facilities to extend wages and salaries. DC relatively expensive standard of living implies that any potential fall in childcare wages to the minimum wage will force many employees to search out alternative employment.

Another PEF program, Health4CareChild care, provided teachers caring for young children with free or low-cost medical insurance. It is estimated that 16% of child care employees under the age of 65 are uninsured in comparison with 4.23% of teachers. The loss of this program will leave many employees uninsured or underinsured, which could also be the case further and disproportionately widen health disparities impact on Black communities in DC

DC has moreover proposed cutting $10 million from the child care subsidy program, which has helped lower child care costs for low-income families. Only current DC child care offers serve 71% of demand. Lower wages combined with subsidy cuts will result in an excellent greater lack of child care available to DC families.


These cuts to the child care budget are a profound betrayal of the guarantees made by the DC mayor and council members to early childhood educators, especially provided that DC has increased education requirements and regulations for child care employees.

In December 2023, DC it required all its manpower in little children have child development credentials or an educational degree. Relatively, only five other states require similar minimum credentials. Increasing educational requirements while abandoning guarantees of increased pay for this predominantly black workforce is deeply damaging to the economic and mental well-being of our child care employees.

The DC government justified these budget cuts by stating that DC needed to search out funds to replenish its reserve funds. Bowser’s budget though attached $3.1 million for juvenile justice centers, $32 million for tourism and marketing subsidies and $551 million for downtown Chinatown revitalization.

Additionally, Tazra Mitchell, director of policy and strategy at the DC Fiscal Policy Institutehe wrote on Twitter “In 2021, the CFO’s office told me that DC had only spent about 75% of its cash flow reserve at any given time.”

The DC government decides to chop child care teaching programs that positively impact Black communities in favor of programs that impact corporate profits to be able to solve the money flow problem. This is an unjust act of democracy that we cannot allow to prevail.

As community members who consider in moving DC toward a caring economy, we’re dedicating our time, attention and resources to urging the DC Mayor and Council not to show their backs on child care employees.

On May 13, we plan to host caregivers and fogeys in the Wilson Building, which houses the mayor’s and council members’ offices. We will probably be hosting office hours and meetings with council members Phil Mendelson, Jeneese Lewis George, Kenyan McDuffee, Christina Henderson and others supporting the restoration of the pay equity fund. SPACE in Action may also host automotive brigades and display banners calling on the DC Council to maintain its promise to child care providers.

Proposed budget cuts to the child care system will threaten the physical and economic health of greater than 4,000 child care employees, mostly Black and Brown. This will worsen an already deepening child care crisis that has left so many families unable to search out inexpensive and accessible take care of their children. The tangible consequences of cutting child care will outweigh the imagined advantages gained from increasing DC’s rainy day fund.

At DWOCC, join us in urging the DC mayor and council members to guard our children’s future by protecting our early childhood educators in the present. No child’s educational development or caregivers’ livelihood should be limited to be able to balance the budget.


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The mother-daughter duo graduated from Rutgers School of Social Work together




Is Rutgers a good school for social work?

Congratulations are to ensure that one mother-daughter duo.

Latonya Johnson, 43, and Laila Birchett, 21, graduated together from the School of Social Work at Rutgers University on Sunday. the institution made available.

“I took my first college course in 1999.” said Johnson, a divorced mother of six whose children range in age from 4 to 26. “From 1999 to the present, I have tried to go back in time six times, but to no avail. I couldn’t manage my time properly because I was a wife, mother and worked full-time.”

In addition to being a full-time mother before enrolling at Rutgers, Johnson worked full-time and took classes part-time. Birchett suggested that they attend school together, prompting her mother to cut back her working hours and enroll at university in September 2022.

“Her journey has been truly inspiring,” Birchett said of her mother. “It encouraged me to work harder in college.”

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The former Montclair State student knew she desired to pursue a field that may allow her to assist others, especially the homeless and the elderly. Johnson previously worked as an authorized alcohol and drug counselor.

At Rutgers, the mother-daughter duo attended different classes but had the identical teacher. They relied on one another for support, from computer technology to real-life experiences.

“There were times when I struggled to cope in school,” Birchett said. People Magazine reported. “But I always thought if my mom could do it, I could do it.”

Johnson and Birchett will enroll within the Rutgers Master of Social Work program this fall.

“My family — my kids, my mom and dad — they’re all proud because it’s two generations going to college together,” Johnson said, in keeping with Rutgers. “I never thought that in one million years I’d go to high school with my daughter and graduate from the identical university and the identical field. It’s a bit of surreal, but it surely has brought us closer together because we’ve got connected on a level I never thought I’d have the option to attach with my children.

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A Virginia school board voted to restore Confederate names at two schools. I bet even Robert E. Lee is confused.




Panama Jackson

Many years ago, I took my wife on her first trip to the Deep South, during which we made an 11-hour trip from Washington, D.C. to Huntsville, Alabama, to visit my parents. My wife, who is from Ghana and moved to New Jersey at age 11 before attending Howard University, had never been to the South before. Sure, she was in Miami, but I think we will all agree that Miami and anywhere in Alabama should not the identical.

Like many individuals from, well, anywhere else, she was very anxious in regards to the trip. Between all of the documentaries in regards to the Civil Rights Movement, history, racist white people, and the final notion that “the South is a place where racism thrives,” she was quite concerned about being kicked with the n-word, potentially kidnapped, and was an ancestor just crossing the imaginary border to the “South”. I assured her that wasn’t the case, but we soon had our first (humorous) encounter with racism.

No greater than two hours outside of DC, we stopped for a rest stop so my kids could use the restroom. We were just outside the border of Northern Virginia, which is not an independent state, but anyone who lives within the DC area knows the difference between “Virginia” and “Northern Virginia,” which is just like the difference between Atlanta and Georgia. A whole group of motorcyclists with Confederate flags on their shirts were parked at the facilities. I talked to one in all the bikers in regards to the weather and we each went our separate ways, but she felt justified. Racism was waiting for us as soon as we hit Virginia. I laughed it off, but I couldn’t disagree with it either.


This memory is the very first thing I considered when I read the recent news in regards to the all-white school board in Shenandoah County, Virginia, voting againwrite down the names of the two schools originally named after racists and losers – Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Turner Ashby. The two schools in query, now Mountain View High School and Honey Run Elementary School, were renamed within the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020, when people made the historically correct decision to remove Confederate symbols and rename schools named after LOSERS CIVIL WAR.

I cannot emphasize enough how idiotic I think it is to honor the losers of the war that tore the country apart, but white people will likely be white people, you recognize? I bet even Stonewall Jackson and Nem will likely be like, “Really??? Wow… what a bunch of idiots. We lost. If we had won, we certainly wouldn’t have had any schools named after Union generals!” Robert E. Lee even against monuments after every little thing was said and done. Why? Because putting up monuments and stuff like that it could be too divisive. What are we even doing here?

Despite what number of community members didn’t want to change the names back to Stonewall Jackson High School and Ashby Lee Elementary, the conservative school board stated, “Yes, we definitely need to put these racists back on the field! LEGACY, NOT HATE!” Forget what message this sends to students of color in these schools; it is more vital to honor the LOSERS of the Civil War because clearly the defenders of slavery and racism were people of high moral standing and character, more so than the school board that modified names after the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

My God.

It’s bad enough that racists have gained momentum through the years with “critical race theory” bans and reversing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, but now districts are actively bringing racists into schools? Deliberately? White people never stop to amaze me with their boldness and audacity. Especially since everyone knows what happens from here; the proven fact that something like this happened on this case signifies that other school districts may follow suit, not for a very good reason, but to make some extent. The proven fact that I hate it here really doesn’t describe how I feel.

The aliens (and Robert E. Lee) have to be very confused.

Panama Jackson

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