MORGANTOWN, W.Va. Changes mandated by Congress in 2019 and 2020 to the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process are causing delays and frustration among families and students.

Following a brief test period, the system went live on December 1, about 60 days later than students and their families would normally have the forms. The U.S. Department of Education computer system has been plagued with issues since the rollout that have resulted in sporadic system availability. Federal officials said some of the systems had not been updated in nearly 50 years.

The WVU Hub and director George Yanchak help students with academic information, student employment, federal work-study programs, and aspects of student aid, including the FASFA.

“Unfortunately, there have been some delays in processing, Yanchak said. “There have been down times at the department’s website that have caused delays in processing.”

West Virginia University has extended the deadline for current and incoming students to April 1. Yanchak urges students and families to get their applications in before the deadline to maximize the amount of educational assistance. Students should be mindful of scholarship and aid deadlines that fall before April 1.

“Meet the priority filing date of April 1 and qualify for all financial aid West Virginia University offers institutionally as well as receive federal and state aid,” Yanchak said.

The form is available online, and WVU offers help to families as they begin to complete the forms. While some nationally believe the changes have thrown the process into chaos, others say the changes have resulted in a more streamlined process.

“Students and parents can click on a link if they have FAFSA Help, so we can assist them in-person or we can schedule a Zoom call to help them complete the FASFA,” Yanchak said.

This year, parents and students are filling out separate parts of the form. The changes have caused serious problems for students with parents who don’t have a social security number, green card holders, and undocumented parents with no social security number.

“They will notify the U.S. Department of Education as to who their parents are and who is contributing to their education,” Yanchak said. “So, as they put those names in, the U.S. Department of Education will send an email to the parents, and the parents will only have to complete their section.”

Yanchak said the U.S. Department of Education will release FASFA information to families and institutions by the middle of March. Until then, Yanchak said their ability to help was limited.

We can only assure them that if they have received an email from the U.S. Department of Education that everything is in the works and it will make it to our institution when it should,” Yanchak said.

Incoming students are welcome to attend the The Great Day on Thursday, Feb. 29, for a chance to win scholarships and other prizes.

The WVU FASFA simplification page