HOUSTON, Texas -- Financial aid packages can be the difference in whether some people attend college. However, millions of Americans are caught up in a waiting game right now through no fault of their own.
The Department of Education updated the Federal Student Aid application last year, making it simpler to complete, but that came with some unexpected delays.
Personal finance expert Lisa Chastain told KTRK-TV that the new, streamlined form was much needed, but there was no ideal time for an overhaul.
The process means many students and their families won't receive financial aid packages from universities or colleges with much time left to decideon where to enroll in the fall.
"Some of the best things that they can do right now is prioritize their schools. If they're not sure they can afford their top school, students should try to take the emotion out of it," Chastain said.
She suggested first looking at the most affordable schools first, and then figuring out what is affordable without aid. Also, she suggested staying connected to the admission and financial aid offices at the schools they'd like to attend.
They provide students with as much information as they can until the final packages are sent out.
While they wait, students can look for merit-based scholarships and other ways to fund their education. They can also consider money-saving opportunities like living at home.
Regardless, Chastain said students should work to have multiple plans ready to go so that when aid packages are sent out around late March or April, they're prepared to make a smart decision.