Federal Student Aid, the federal Department of Education branch that hands out more than $150 billion a year in financial aid and develops the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), apologized early Wednesday morning for a tweet it sent the night before.
The @FAFSA Twitter account sent out a popular meme photo of actress Kristen Wiig in the movie Bridesmaids, with her character’s lines overlaid on top of the movie still: “Help me. I’m poor.”
“If this is you, then you better fill out your FAFSA,” the tweet added, with the link to the FAFSA website.
The @FAFSA tweet was later deleted. Here’s a screenshot, captured by BuzzFeed reporter Jacob Fischler:
— Jacob Fischler (@ItsFischy) June 25, 2014
Federal Student Aid then sent out an apology:
We apologize for the insensitivity of our previous tweet. Our goal is to make college a reality for all. We're very sorry.
— Federal Student Aid (@FAFSA) June 25, 2014
Angry responses on Twitter had come in fast after the original tweet. Responses focused on the incongruity of the nation’s largest provider of student aid posting a joke that appeared to make light of low-income students or the obstacles they face.
As Philadelphia’s own Cory Townes, son of DJ Jazzy Jeff, explained:
Bad social from @FAFSA. Being “poor” is nothing to joke about, especially with the hardships people go through to go to school.
— My Name Is My Name (@CoryTownes) June 25, 2014
The FAFSA is used to apply for federal student aid, including federal grants, loans, and work-study. Popular aid programs include the Federal Pell Grants and Federal Perkins Loan Program.
Many schools also use the FAFSA to help determine their own financial aid, and some states use it for state-based aid as well. As their office puts it: “Completing and submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the single most important thing you can do to get assistance paying for college.”