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Federal Student Aid office to undergo ‘full-scale review’

Federal Student Aid office to undergo ‘full-scale review’

Higher Ed Dive

Laura Spitalniak
May 31, 2024
Dive Brief:
  •  The U.S. Department of Education will conduct a full-scale review of its Federal Student Aid office, following a chaotic rollout of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
  • On Thursday, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the department will inspect all of FSA’s operations, as well as management and staffing procedures. As part of that process, the agency will seek to “hold vendors accountable for performance issues” through an evaluation of the office’s contracting procedures.
  • An independent consulting firm will also conduct a workflow and organizational structure audit, Cardona said.
Dive Insight:
In a typical year, the FSA’s primary focus has been overseeing the federal government’s student loan portfolio. But the relatively small office had even more added to its plate in 2020 when Congress ordered the department to make the notoriously difficult FAFSA easier for students and their families to fill out.
The Education Department released the simplified FAFSA in late December — about three months later than usual. The form continued to contend with technical glitches and submission errors for months, causing ripple effects across the higher education sector.
The FAFSA acts as a gateway to federal student aid, and colleges and states often use its data when making their own aid packages. In response to the delays, many institutions bumped back their commitment deadlines, and some states waived their FAFSA completion requirements for students.
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