August 28, 2023
The U.S. Department of Education is overhauling the Free Application for Federal Student Aid this year, but the agency plans to roll out the new form in December — two months later than usual. That delay could cause issues for college administrators and states, financial aid experts say.
The new FAFSA represents the first major redesign of the form in over 40 years. The revamp intends to create a more streamlined process for students applying for federal financial aid, expands Pell Grant eligibility and lower barriers for certain student populations, including those who are homeless, incarcerated and come from low-income backgrounds.
But the delay could affect state and institutional financial aid deadlines, require colleges to increase staffing, and impact students’ college decisions.
Several aspects of the FAFSA simplification will also add burdens for financial aid officers, such as new reporting requirements and changes to the federal aid methodology formula, said Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, in an email. And, he added, financial aid offices nationwide are already experiencing significant staffing shortages.
“Financial aid offices are certainly feeling the pressure,” Draeger said. “These are the most significant changes to the way students and families apply for and receive financial aid in decades, and they’re happening on a tight timeline.”