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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
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By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • 12:44 am
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By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 10, 2024

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Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • 12:44 am
Opinion | Women pop stars and the pressure to evolve
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 10, 2024

Pitt extends commitment deadline for first-year students to May 15

A+student+looks+at+a+laptop+screen+that+reads+%E2%80%9CWelcome+to+Pitt.%E2%80%9D
Hannah Levine | Staff Photographer
A student looks at a laptop screen that reads “Welcome to Pitt.”

High school seniors had a little extra time to decide if they will attend Pitt this fall.

The University of Pittsburgh announced on Feb. 23 that it would extend its commitment deadline from May 1 to May 15 due to the U.S. Department of Education’s delay in sending the Free Application for Federal Student Aid data. Pitt joined schools across the country in extending its commitment deadline for this reason, which includes the California State system, Rutgers and Penn State. Colleges use the data that students and their families disclose on their FAFSA forms to determine financial aid packages.

In response to a federal law introduced in 2020, the Department of Education unveiled sweeping changes to the FAFSA and the formula it applies to the data in December. This has resulted in a mass delay of the release of FAFSA data due to technical glitches on the form and last-minute changes to these calculations, according to the New York Times.

“This means schools will not have FAFSA data until sometime in March, which will greatly impact the University of Pittsburgh’s ability to send financial aid offers to our first-year admitted students,” Pitt spokesperson Jared Stonesifer said. “Pitt’s financial aid office is working diligently to determine an accurate timeline for these communications.”

Current college students such as Katie Emmert, a junior criminal justice and political science major, have encountered these difficulties on the FAFSA form.

“I think [the process] was definitely difficult just because of the amount of uncertainty,” Emmert said. “Obviously [in] Harrisburg, there was a lot of delays there and a lot of confusion. So there was definitely concern with that.”

The delay in financial packages has caused anxiety for high school seniors, according to Mayar AlSharaa, a senior at Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh.

“The delay in financial aid packages has caused me to stress over college decisions much more than I thought it would,” AlSharaa said. “I feel like [the extension] gives me more time to view all my options and find the most suitable and affordable school for me.”

AlSharaa said she’s just waiting on her financial aid packages to make her decision. For Emmert, financial aid played a key role in making her college decision. 

“I think financial aid was a make or break for me,” Emmert said, “It was probably one of the most important factors of deciding where to go.”

Emmert remembered her own experience of deciding where to go to college as a high school senior and how an extension to the deadline may help current high school students.

“I think I would feel pretty relieved, just because it seems to create a more flexible timeline for people,” she said, “Since I chose my higher education based on what financial aid I received from different universities, I think extending the deadline would allow me to actually be able to take more time to decide to where I want to go, and then I wouldn’t have to hit decline in someplace just because I was unsure of what my aid package would be.”

Along with helping  schools create financial aid packages, FAFSA also  helps the DOE determine who receives Pell Grants — a federal loan for low-income students that, in most cases, students don’t have to repay. Both these types of aid can take thousands of dollars off tuition costs.

“My family is unable to pay full tuition … therefore, being able to get as much financial aid from any school will completely change my life,” AlSharaa said. “I fear that if I don’t hear back soon, I won’t know what to do by the time commitment day comes.”

The FAFSA form typically opens on Oct. 1 each year but got delayed in 2023 until the end of December because of the new changes. When it did launch, students and parents could only access the website periodically.

“Continued delays — communicated at the last minute — threaten to harm the very students and families that federal student aid is intended to help,” Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said in a statement via the New York Times.

To avoid this fate, Pittsburgh-area high schools have taken new measures such as distributing information in newsletters and on social media to make sure students and parents understand why financial aid packages are delayed and that they have two extra weeks to decide on a college, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“[Based on] the discussions I’ve had with my friends, we have all come to an agreement that we will most likely end up going to our cheapest option,” AlSharaa said, “However, at the moment, none of us know what that will be, therefore we are constantly stressing over when FAFSA will come out.”