CHARLESTON, W.Va. — College-bound seniors and their families began the initial process to receive financial aid at three local institutions in Kanawha County Thursday during the West Virginia FASFA Day.

Kanawha County Schools paired up with the WV Higher Education Policy Commission, University of Charleston, WV State University, and BridgeValley CTC for the KCS FASFA Fair held at the three schools.

The students and families had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with financial aid experts during the event who walked them through the FASFA sign up process.

Financial Aid Director at UC Christie Tomczyk said the event was going smoothly despite the changes made to the 2024-2025 FASFA by the U.S. Department of Education.

“We’re able to assist them with any questions or issues they may encounter with the changes,” she said.

However, she said there were some minor issues people did run into because of those changes.

“We had a couple FSA ID issues, but we were able to work through them and get those corrected so that the parents could get their FASFA submitted for their son or daughter,” Tomczyk said.

Requiring students and parents to register for an FSA ID before the enrollment session Thursday was one of the FASFA changes that was put into place this year.

However, the biggest difference this FASFA enrollment year has seen was its late start. Typically released the first of October, the application for FASFA was not made available this year until January.

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito is among the congressional republicans who say the Biden Administration “botched” the implementation of their revised bipartisan FASFA bill known as the FASFA Simplification Act, which made several changes to FASFA in order to streamline the registration process for enrolling students and families.

During a media briefing Thursday Capito said the administration is now months behind and this is creating more challenges in the process with something that was meant to be simplified.

“They made an announcement this week that says now some of the schools are not going to get the forms from the students that shows how much they can have in terms of financial aid until the middle of March,” she said.

Senator Capito

She said the students entering college for the first time are the ones having to bear most of the burden from the late start and now the delayed understanding as to how much they will even get back.

“Think about a first time college student who doesn’t know how much they’re going to get to be able to afford it, if they can afford it, and on the heels of this they have to accept or deny an admission to an institution,” Capito said.

However a parent at Thursday’s FASFA Fair at UC, Elizabeth Giordano said she feels as though the process was as straightforward as it could be, but she was glad to be getting the help.

“I’m really grateful that I came here, because I would have been lost, it was really good,” she said.

She said such an event like Thursday’s is beneficial for all parents and students to attend as it still can be a complicated process for them no matter how much the government tries to simplify it.

“There’s people here that are more professional and that know the system better than we do, and if you need help it’s immediate,” Giordano said.

Some other major changes to FASFA this year through the FASFA Simplification Act include a streamlined number of questions for many applicants from over 100 to just 18, replacing the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with Student Aid Index (SAI), and expanding access to Federal Pell Grants.