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Federal-Aid Forms Are Finally Flowing to Colleges. But Many Concerns Remain.

Federal-Aid Forms Are Finally Flowing to Colleges. But Many Concerns Remain.

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Eric Hoover
March 20, 2024
Justin Chase Brown took last week off. It was spring break at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, where he serves as director of scholarships and financial aid. “Just trying to have a little calm,” he told The Chronicle last Friday, “before the storm gets even worse.”
The storm is the disruption resulting from the problematic rollout of the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which went live in late December, about three months later than usual. After a rocky first month defined by glitches and unexplained errors that have hindered many applicants, the U.S. Department of Education announced in late January that it wouldn’t start sending processed federal-aid forms to colleges until the first half of March, pushing back the financial-aid timeline even further.
The department early last week did send a limited number of processed forms, known as Institutional Student Information Records, or ISIRs, to colleges throughout the nation. Most institutions depend on those electronic documents to generate financial-aid offers for students, a step that keeps the big enrollment machine humming. But as of last Friday, Nebraska had received fewer than 10. By mid-March in a typical year, the university would have about 25,000. A dozen other colleges last week said that they had received as few as two; a couple reported that they had none at all.
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