Newton high schools caught up on college applications process

Applying to college can be stressful enough already. And in Newton, the teacher strike in January and a problem with the online federal student aid application form has created even more anxiety as high school seniors plan their next big steps.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which all students fill out who are seeking financial aid for undergraduate or graduate school, has been plagued by glitches and processing delays resulting in part from changes made during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a parent of a high school senior myself, I know this is a really unprecedented college application season, based on all of the delays at the federal level with the FASFA form that continues to do the process,” Assistant Superintendent Toby Romer said to the School Committee Monday night.

And in Newton, that problem has been exacerbated by the district’s need to play catch-up after a two-week teacher strike that ended Feb. 2.

“There should not be any delays with any of the materials that we submit to colleges as part of the college applications process, whether that be transcripts, grades, college recommendations and the rest of that process,” Romer assured.

Principals at both of Newton’s high schools had reported delays in college application materials being sent to schools, but now, Romer said, those setbacks were quickly handled.

“Any delays there were a matter of days from our usual routine, based on the timing of the strike, and have been completed for almost a couple months,” he said.