Annie Deitz, Campus Carrier deputy news editor
On Tuesday, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opened for students in the U.S. According to the Federal Student Aid website of the U.S. Department of Education, the FAFSA application is now being offered in multiple formats. Rather than just being accessible through the traditional fafsa.gov website, the application is now available as a smart phone app. Named myStudentAid, the new app gives students the opportunity to apply for federal financial aid through a mobile format, diversifying access.
According to Naomi Sarrion-Cortes, director of financial aid, the app was created last year after the Oct. 1 application opening. This will be the first year that the app can be used by students on the first day of application season.
“This was launched last year when the FAFSA cycle had already opened, so we don’t have much experience with it,” Sarrion-Cortes said. “We’re excited to see how it ends up turning out.”
As Financial Aid Counselor Maggie Stansell said, school financial services were not given specific explanations as to why the app was created, however, it is likely due to the increasing frequency with which prospective students have access to smartphones.
“We were just notified that there were new resources for students,” Stansell said. “I’m sure that since so many students have cell phones, they wanted the app to be on those. We’re not really sure why, it’s just a new tool for students to have access to FAFSA.”
The app is the same as the desktop form, Stansell explained, only now it is accessible through a phone.
“With the FAFSA, even though it’s an app, it’s still the same information,” Stansell said. “It’s still going to be the same information a web browser will utilize.”
The same security measures protecting sensitive financial and personal data on the desktop version of the application have been translated to the mobile version. As Sarrion-Cortes explained, the Department of Education worked to ensure that entered data would remain safe, regardless of the application option students choose.
“The Department of Education has told us that the safeguards for private data is exactly the same on the app as it is on the website,” Sarrion-Cortes said.
In general, according to Stansell, being prepared for FAFSA to open is important. Whether students apply for federal financial aid online or through the new myStudentAid app, knowing when and how to apply can be crucial for filling out the application in a timely and successful manner.