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Colleges won’t receive FAFSA applicant info until March, Education Department says

Colleges won’t receive FAFSA applicant info until March, Education Department says

Higher Ed Dive

Natalie Schwartz
January 30, 2024
Dive Brief: 
  • The U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday that it won’t transmit information from students who filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to colleges until the first half of March, further shortening the timeline for institutions to make financial aid offers.
  • Usually the Education Department makes the FAFSA available on Oct. 1 and colleges receive applicant data shortly thereafter. This year, the department released the FAFSA form on Dec. 30 — nearly three months later than usual.
  • The delay was meant to give the Education Department time to unveil a new, simplified form that reduced the maximum number of questions students and their families must answer from over 100 to less than half of that. But the debut has been hamstrung by delays, technical glitches and last-minute adjustments to the funding formula.
Dive Insight: 
The Education Department originally told colleges and state agencies — which rely on FAFSA applicant information to make financial aid and grant offers — that it would transmit data to them in late January. But Tuesday’s announcement pushed back that timeline by over a month.
“On the very day that schools were expecting FAFSA applicant information, they were instead notified by the U.S. Department of Education that they shouldn’t expect to receive that data until March, at the earliest,” Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said in a statement. “These continued delays, communicated at the last minute, threaten to harm the very students and families that federal student aid is intended to help.”
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