It all began when 17-year-old high school senior Lizbeth Rivas shared a video with surprisingly high production value of her experience at prom in late March.
The video, set to Offset and Cardi B's song "Clout," could have been a music video. It featured dramatic camera angle swoops of her and her friends in lavish gowns with Mercedes-Benzes and a wad of cash.
"Instead of pictures ... I opted for a video of me and my close friends just enjoying ourselves," Rivas told BuzzFeed News on Monday. She said she knew people who knew videographers who could produce quality content for them.
The video had gone viral on its own, for being, well, a precedent for clout. But things dramatically and hilariously took a turn when, a few days later, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) showed up in her mentions.
One user @_Ferrg first joked about "FAFSA looking at this [video] like" with a GIF of rapper Birdman doing his famous handrub.
@_Ferrg had not tagged the official account, but a day later, FAFSA actually saw the video and showed up.
The official FAFS Twitter account then responded to Rivas' flashy prom video with their own GIF that basically said I see you.
@FAFSA's single tweet has gone viral, with over 13,000 retweets and 47,000 likes, and has people shocked.
"I’m mad the actual FASFA account responded... they ain’t playing no games," one user wrote in response.
People were then nervous for Rivas, especially if she had any plans to attend college and/or apply for financial aid. "Her lookin at fasfa with the verified mark. Oh they watchin watchin," someone joked.
The teen, however, was not amused by all of the reactions.
"People assumed my parents had all this money to spend when in reality I have a job, I saved up and paid for my dress, did my own makeup and hair, and the car was my date’s father’s car," she said.
She said that she was "a little mad" when she saw that FAFSA got involved because her tweet "started reaching to a bigger audience."
She said she drew some harsh criticism from people who did not know her, or her financial standings.
"I was receiving a lot of hate and foul things were being said," Rivas added, and finally resigned herself to saying, "But hey, that’s the internet for ya!"
Fortunately for her, most of the reactions online have mostly been in jest. And about FAFSA's sudden social media presence.
Some even joked that she flexed too hard and now could have ruined her FAFSA application.
People online are now paranoid for themselves and if the US Department of Education might see their own social media activity.
"FAFSA REALLY BE WATCHING OUR SHIT," someone jokingly tweeted.
"They watching g, they watching," some wrote, even tagging their friends.
But rest assured: A spokesperson for the Department of Education told BuzzFeed News that the department does not "monitor people's [online] activities."
"We don’t monitor people’s activity, instead we look for opportunities to engage with our customers to inform them about federal student aid and answer their questions…using words and GIFs," they said in a statement.
The FAFSA rep also said around this time — prom season — FAFSA is often sent high schoolers' indulgent tweets about the event. The account doesn't usually respond, they said, but this time they "thought it was a relevant opportunity to embrace the channel's humor."
"The original tweet was ‘sent’ to us dozens of times," they added.
As the tweets grow more viral, others are using it as an opportunity to ask FAFSA questions about their own financial aid issues. And @FAFSA is actually responding, and directing prospective students to relevant information.
This post has been updated to include an interview with the OP of the prom video and high school senior Lizbeth Rivas.