Student Aid: GNU/Linux users need not apply

Or: The U.S. Government’s curious definition of ‘Free

There is a website called Free Application for Federal Student Aid run by the U.S. Government which you have to use if you want to make an application for federal student financial aid.  But you have to run a proprietary operating system, either some version of windows or a version of Mac OSX, to access the site.  It is especially ironic because the compatible browser page says:

Your Web browser is not supported by our Web site. You must use a Compliant Web Browser – Standard* to view our site properly. We recommend you upgrade to the latest version of your browser according to your Operating System….

[….List of many browsers follows, none running on GNU/Linux.…]

*Compliant Web Browser – Standard
For the past few years, every major Web browser released has been built around a set of open standards designated by the World Wide Web Consortium, a non-profit organization charged with overseeing the continuing development of the Web. What this means is that one piece of code now looks the same on every modern browser, whether it be Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, or others. The majority of our users are using these modern browsers, so we can present content which is optimized for them.

Here is the https://fafsa.ed.gov/FAFSA/app/errors?page=incompatibleBrowser incompatible browser page and below the fold find a copyclip of what that page says today, January 06 2011:

An Incompatible Browser Has Been Detected

Your Web browser is not supported by our Web site. You must use a Compliant Web Browser – Standard* to view our site properly. We recommend you upgrade to the latest version of your browser according to your Operating System.

Browser Requirements to Access this Site (Listed by Operating System).

Supported Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers:
Windows XP – Internet Explorer 6.0, 7.0, and 8.0
Windows Vista – Internet Explorer 7.0 and 8.0
Windows 7 – Internet Explorer 8.0

**Instructions for upgrading Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers:

  1. Click this link to access Microsoft’s Internet Explorer page.
  2. Click the “Download” hyperlink.
  3. Click the “Download” button on the bottom of the page, underneath the “Get Internet Explorer 7” heading.
  4. Click the “Continue” button. Leave the “Change Language:” option as “English.”
  5. We recommend you use your browser’s default settings to safeguard your application information and ensure that the Web site works properly.

** Note that Microsoft does not keep older browser versions available to download from their Web site.

Supported Mozilla Firefox browsers:
Windows XP – Mozilla Firefox 3.5.x and 3.6.x
Windows Vista – Mozilla Firefox 3.5.x and 3.6.x
Windows 7 – Mozilla Firefox 3.5.x and 3.6.x
Macintosh Operating System 10.5 – Mozilla Firefox 3.5.x and 3.6.x

Instructions for upgrading Mozilla Firefox browser:

  1. Click this link to access http://www.mozilla.com/firefox
  2. Click the “Download Firefox” button.
  3. We recommend you use your browser’s default settings to safeguard your application information and ensure that the Web site works properly.

Supported Apple Safari browsers:
Windows XP – Apple Safari 4.x and 5.x
Windows Vista – Apple Safari 4.x and 5.x
Windows 7 – Apple Safari 4.x and 5.x
Macintosh Operating System 10.5 – Apple Safari 4.x and 5.x

Instructions for upgrading Apple Safari browser:

  1. Click this link to access http://www.apple.com/safari/download .
  2. Click the “Download Safari” button.
  3. We recommend you use your browser’s default settings to safeguard your application information and ensure that the Web site works properly.

Supported Google Chrome browsers:
Windows XP – Google Chrome 6.0.x
Windows Vista – Google Chrome 6.0.x
Windows 7 – Google Chrome 6.0.x and 7.0.x
Macintosh Operating System 10.5 – Google Chrome 6.0.x

Instructions for upgrading Google Chrome browser:

  1. Click this link to access http://www.google.com/chrome .
  2. Click the “Download Google Chrome” button.
  3. We recommend you use your browser’s default settings to safeguard your application information and ensure that the Web site works properly.

Supported Opera browsers:
Windows 7 – Opera 10.x

Instructions for upgrading Opera browser:

  1. Click this link to access http://www.opera.com .
  2. Click the “Download Opera” button.
  3. We recommend you use your browser’s default settings to safeguard your application information and ensure that the Web site works properly.

*Compliant Web Browser – Standard
For the past few years, every major Web browser released has been built around a set of open standards designated by the World Wide Web Consortium, a non-profit organization charged with overseeing the continuing development of the Web. What this means is that one piece of code now looks the same on every modern browser, whether it be Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, or others. The majority of our users are using these modern browsers, so we can present content which is optimized for them.

Student Aid: GNU/Linux users need not apply

2 thoughts on “Student Aid: GNU/Linux users need not apply

  1. dobrien says:

    RE FAFSA browser compatibility:

    Am I SOL just because I’m running MAC OS X v. 10.4.11 — which won’t work with the latest Safari browser? I need options other than getting a new machine with a new operating system, etc. Help!

    1. @dobrien:

      Free Software to the rescue: Just download Firefox, install through the “Add-Ons” found under the tools menu the “USER AGENT CHANGER” Change the user agent to IE8, and you will be good to go!

      Cheers!

      eee_eff

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