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Why families applying for financial aid may initially have trouble with the new FAFSA

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People walk on the campus of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill on June 29, 2023, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

By Katie Lobosco, CNN ;5 minute read; Published 2:39 PM EST, Tue January 2, 2024

Washington (CNN) – A long-awaited update to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA, was released on December 30. But some families are having trouble accessing the online form, which has so far only been available for short periods of time.

During what the Department of Education is calling a “soft launch,” the agency is monitoring site performance, conducting planned pauses for maintenance and making updates.

The FAFSA application was available for a 30-minute window on December 30, a 30-minute window on December 31 and a two-hour window on January 1, according to the Department of Education. More than 30,000 forms were successfully submitted during those times, and the form was reopened the afternoon of January 2.

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