By: Brittany Clausman
University of Michigan 2015, B.A. Communications

The US Department of Education has recently announced that it plans to drop the FAFSA component that lists where students are applying for the upcoming 2016-2017 year. This is intended as a method to deter college admissions from using that information to critique applications. Previously, not only would you have to list the schools where you applied, you would also receive no notification if a school had requested and received access to that information. The change comes in response to a request by the NACAC earlier this year to drop the list from FAFSA forms. Federal law prohibits the use of FAFSA for anything other than determining financial aid, but the NACAC felt that some colleges were requesting that information as a loophole to see how students listed their college preferences. While it may not be your intention, if a college were to request your FAFSA and see the schools you were applying for listed, they may consider the list in order of most to least desirable. As such, if one of the schools that requested your FAFSA sees your list and notices a competitor college in a higher position, it may lead them to assume a different critical approach to your application, or even deny you entirely.

While it is comforting to see action taken by the Department to increase the transparency of the application process, students applying for college this year are not out of hot water just yet. This year’s Common App will now allow colleges to ask applicants where else they are applying. As we can see, the colleges who receive that information can utilize it as a method to critique applications. If a college were to assume that your list was preferential in nature based on your FAFSA form, it’s safe to assume they will most likely assess how you list your colleges on the Common App in a similar fashion.

For students applying for college, it is stressful enough without having to consider that something as innocuous as a list could determine whether they go to their first choice school or not. How does one go about applying for college without the fear that your application, one that you work so hard to perfect, may be denied simply based on a list? At Parros College Planning, we always stay up-to-date on the latest college news and information. Don’t make a mistake that could lead to your college application being denied. We will use our creative expertise to guide you through the Common App and to make sure that colleges not only accept you, but actively want you to be a part of their school. Don’t let yourself be judged based on an arbitrary list of schools. We offer assistance to get you the best aid, and the best chance at being accepted.