New FAFSA mobile app opens for students

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Students are now able to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, from their phones using a new mobile app called My Student Aid.

The free app, released by the Department of Education at the beginning of this month, will make the filing experience “more positive, engaging, and user-friendly” for students and parents, according to the FAFSA website.

Trina Manor, associate director in the Office of Financial Aid at UT, said the change will increase student accessibility to the FAFSA form. 

“Sometimes a smartphone is the only ‘computer’ that a family may have, so they may be doing it on a smartphone instead of a laptop,” Manor said. 

The mobile app, which became available Oct. 1 when the FAFSA application opened, should not change the way UT processes the applications, Manor said.  

“We won’t know until we actually are processing the ones that are coming through the mobile app (whether there are) any benefits on our side as far as processing applications,” Manor said.

Social work sophomore Molly Miller said while a mobile app may increase accessibility, she still has concerns about whether the app would crash if she tried to use it.

“I feel like my phone is much more likely to crash on such a high bandwidth site than it is on my computer,” Miller said. “FAFSA already crashes on my computer, so I can only imagine what it would do on my phone.”

When the site has crashed in the past, Miller said it lost her information, and she had to restart that portion of her application. Miller also said she is concerned about potential security issues with filling out financial information on an app as opposed to a computer. 

“An app would be less secure just because people have their phones on them all the time, and if they leave it out somewhere, someone has easier access to it than on a computer,” Miller said. 

Alexis Fischer, a communication and leadership junior, said she would not use the app because any error in typing her information could have large repercussions. 

“I would just need to take the time to look at all the numbers and fill everything out and make sure I don’t make a mistake because that would have a huge affect on my loans,” Fischer said. “Mobile apps make things way more casual, and FAFSA isn’t casual. My whole tuition depends on it.” 

For the 2019–2020 school year, the FAFSA application is open from Oct. 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019.