FASFA process unfair, college education should not come with debt

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Every year, millions of people in the United States, hoping for a less-expensive college education, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

For many college hopefuls, financial aid is the best — and possibly the only — way of getting a higher education. 

But many students run into issues qualifying or even applying. 

For others, applying only means receiving an email back to learn they may not be eligible for aid, despite needing it. Many Delta College students receive some sort of help, including fee waivers, but is it enough?

To determine financial need, FAFSA relies on parents’ income, unless the student is listed as an independent. 

A short list of qualifiers to be an Independent is: if you are married, born before Jan. 1, 1996, in the military or if both parents are dead. 

It can also be difficult for students who may not be able to get the information from their parents or legal guardian, for reasons such as estrangement or strained relationships.

Sometimes getting family to fill out or provide the information can be difficult. 

Some who want higher education have to apply for ridiculously high loans just to pay for classes and books, putting that same student in debt that they have to pay off for a good portion of their life. 

More than five million people submitted FAFSA applications last year, and an estimated one million came from California alone, according to studentaid.ed.gov. 

Even after all of this only 57 percent of students are eligible  for financial aid, leaving many who want to get a higher education to the alternate route of paying for their education. 

For some, it marks the end of the road to education.

After having to work for however many years, the same student has to pay off their student debt, which is what discourages students who are unable to receive aid.

The system spits out an expected family contribution, based on income and other factors. The reality is that all students deserve a free and debt-less education.

 So why should a system determine whether a specific person should get money or not? It shouldn’t.

Enter Assembly Bill 19, signed by former Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017. 

First time, full time students will get fee waivers for their first academic year, with no income requirements attached. Filling out the FAFSA is still required.

This does help students with their first year, but the next year they are put back into the exact same situation of how the next few years will be paid for. 

Current students will still be on the edge of how to pay for their own education, because the bill only helps first year students.