California Financial Aid Application Deadline Extended for Students

Students who are in pursuit of state financial aid have a mere fortnight left to meet a deadline in California. This deadline has left thousands struggling to complete the required federal application for said state aid, mainly affecting students who are citizens while their parents do not hold citizenship.

Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes, a leading Democratic lawmaker representing Corona and chairing the California Latino Legislative Caucus, is expediting a bill to grant California students facing this dilemma more time to finalize the federal application. This bill, known as Assembly Bill 1887, aims to extend the current deadline from April 2 to May 2, with immediate effect if passed.

The first hearing for this bill is slated for Monday at 3 p.m., with lawmakers under pressure to approve it before the legislative break commences next Thursday. The break concludes on March 31, just a day before the current state financial aid deadline.

Cervantes’ proposal comes in the wake of a technological predicament at the federal level preventing U.S. citizens from completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) due to their parents’ lack of a Social Security number. This issue surfaced this year and has sparked significant concern in California’s higher education sector and nationwide.

The challenge arises from the federal online application’s failure to accommodate parents without a Social Security number from entering their financial information. Without this crucial detail, students cannot finalize their federal aid application, and consequently, they are unable to apply for state financial aid.

“The Legislature can highlight and emphasize how unacceptable it is that certain U.S. citizens cannot submit a FAFSA,” Gina Browne, a senior official at the California Community Colleges system, expressed during a Senate hearing last week. “I’m personally offended by it,” she added.

The full scope of the issue remains uncertain, with over 100,000 California students having submitted a federal aid application last year without their parents’ Social Security numbers. The exact number of parents lacking a number or choosing not to share one with the government remains unclear. Nationally, about 2% of applicants encountered similar issues in 2024, according to U.S. Department of Education officials.

Challenges Persist at the Federal Level

The Department of Education addressed some of the technical glitches this week. However, there are still unresolved errors impeding certain students from completing their applications. These issues include discrepancies in the names provided by parents or spouses on the necessary forms.

The state Senate plans to advocate for an extension as part of its early-action initiative launched last Thursday. Public colleges and universities in California urged the Senate subcommittee last week to back an extension of the state financial aid deadline. Critical advisers for the Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom previously voiced support for the idea.

“Extending the state financial aid deadline is a measure worth considering as it allows the U.S. Department of Education more time to rectify these technical challenges,” stated Lisa Qing, an official with the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Chris Ferguson from the California Department of Finance also signaled potential support from the administration for such an extension.

However, Senior Official Jake Brymner from the California Student Aid Commission cautioned that delaying the deadline this year might not resolve other potential issues with the federal application that could arise in 2025.

Parents lacking Social Security numbers now must undergo identity confirmation processes to complete the FAFSA, such as submitting identifying documents. Brymner noted potential concerns among students about sharing family members’ information with a federal agency, particularly if the political climate changes, alluding to possible actions under a new presidential administration.

The commission has explored utilizing a different application for state financial aid, intended for undocumented students, to circumvent the federal technical hurdles facing U.S. citizens this year. Notably, information provided on this application is not shared with federal authorities.

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