Illinois high school seniors face big college application challenges
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Illinois high school seniors have new hurdles to overcome to get to college. High school students are waiting several extra weeks to get their hands on a newly designed Free Application for Student Aid. You might know it better as FAFSA.
The delay in the current process puts students behind when applying for financial aid.
Tabitha Jackson, senior seminar instructor for CICS Longwood High School, works with seniors at the charter school in Chicago. She said FAFSA has always been an Achilles heel, but the delay -- combined with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to repeal affirmative action -- has further exacerbated the process.
"It's so frustrating and it's so hurtful to let a student know, 'Because of who I am, I may not have some additional support or some additional support benefits of being able to go to this school,'" she said. "My question is to my students: 'If affirmative action stops at this level, what's next?'"
Jackson added a lot of students don't want debt, and financial aid helps determine which college they can afford. The 2024-25 FAFSA form is expected to be available by the end of 2023.
The cumbersome conditions coincide with a downward trend for high school seniors who are participating in career and college aid counseling.
Doug Keller, partnership lead with San Francisco-based YouthTruth, said its Class of 2022 Survey underscores troubling findings from respondents.
"We found that there's significant declines among particular student groups and their participating in counseling about how to pay for college -- specifically, among Hispanic or Latinx students, multi-racial and multi-ethnic students and boys," he explained.
Keller said the largest gap is among American Indian, Alaskan and other Indigenous students, with a 14% gap between those who want to go to college and those who expect to attend.
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