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Higher ed organizations press for firm FAFSA release date

Higher ed organizations press for firm FAFSA release date

Higher Ed Dive

Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
March 21, 2023
Dive Brief:
  • Eight higher education organizations are asking the U.S. Department of Education to commit to a date by which it will release the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which is in the process of being revised.
  • Traditionally, the FAFSA goes live Oct. 1. But groups like the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators wrote to the Office of Federal Student Aid last week that they heard it may be delayed, potentially even past the end of the year.
  • The groups are asking the Education Department to say by May 1 when it will publish the FAFSA. They wrote that states, colleges and access organizations “must prepare to make significant adjustments to their systems and processes based on the FAFSA release date.”
Dive Insight:
The Education Department was slated to roll out a new, simplified iteration of the FAFSA by Oct. 1 to be used to award financial aid for the 2024-25 academic year.
However, pundits have wondered whether the department can pull off the mammoth task of reworking the financial aid application process in a timely fashion. Not only will the Education Department need to release it, but also high school and college officials will need to be trained on how to navigate it.
The coalition in last week’s letter requested the Education Department initiate a communications plan to help students, families and schools understand the FAFSA by July 1.
It is also demanding the Education Department release all training materials for the FAFSA by that date.
“If the FAFSA is delayed, it will be critical for FSA to take proactive steps to stem confusion in the field to the greatest degree possible,” the organizations wrote. “We recommend that FSA deliver clear and simple messages for all impacted stakeholders, especially students and families, about what the delay does and doesn’t mean for their financial aid.”
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