College financial aid became a hot mess because of delays and government errors


In years past, FAFSA applications for the following year would open to students and families in October.
Institutions would process applications in January to give students time before enrollment deadlines in May to evaluate their situation.
However, delays from a botched update prevented applications from opening until January, when they were temporarily shut down, while a subsequent setback delayed the process further.
“Students who complete a FAFSA today can expect their records to be sent to colleges within one to three days,” Kvaal added.
“It’s been a challenging year for the FAFSA, but I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in recent weeks.”
The biggest change in the revamped FAFSA was the replacement of the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) formula with the Student Aid Index (SAI).
The Department of Education said the SAI removes the number of family members in college from the calculation and implements separate eligibility criteria for Federal Pell Grants.
Delays from the Department of Education’s overhaul process prevented FAFSA applications from opening until January, at which time it was temporarily shut down.


The timelines for both new and returning college students to apply for federal financial aid and receive their award offers were thrown off this year due to the poorly executed launch of a new application form; this summer, the office in charge will undergo a change in leadership.

After problems with the new FAFSA application form’s implementation led to delays in financial aid offers, many college students and their families are left wondering what they will receive when the new academic year begins in a few months.

Historically, families and students would be able to apply for FAFSAs in October for the following year. Applications would be processed by institutions in January, allowing students to assess their circumstances prior to May enrollment deadlines. But applications couldn’t be accepted until January due to a malfunctioning update, at which point they were temporarily suspended. This setback further prolonged the application process.

Resigning at the end of June is Richard Cordray, the chief operating officer of the Federal Student Aid (FSA), according to a report published on Friday by USA Today. It is unclear how the delays will affect incoming college students who are still awaiting financial aid offers, which have historically had a May 1 deadline for acceptance, though some colleges have pushed that deadline back to May 15 or June 1. The announcement comes as the Department of Education believes it has addressed issues with FAFSA applications.

The college financial aid fiasco is still going strong, but the top education department is officially shutting down.

James Kvaal, the undersecretary of education, told reporters on Tuesday, “Any students who have been waiting to fill out a FAFSA need to know that now is the time to fill it out.”. We will keep doing everything in our power to help students receive all of the financial aid for which they qualify and to assist colleges in extending financial aid offers to qualified students as soon as possible because we recognize how crucial this is. ****.

According to Kvaal, “students who submit an FAFSA today should anticipate receiving their records from colleges in one to three days.”. “The FAFSA has had a difficult year, but I’m proud of the strides we’ve made in recent weeks. “.

How does the FAFSA work?

If incoming and continuing students, along with their families, wish to apply for federal financial aid at higher education institutions for the upcoming academic year, they must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA calculates a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid, including subsidized or unsubsidized student loans, based on information about their family’s finances.

Investigation by Watchdog into the BOTCHED Financial Aid Rollout of the Biden Administration.

What made it a makeover?

Congress enacted a bipartisan spending bill in December 2020 that mandated the Department of Education to restructure and expedite the FAFSA submission process before the 2024–2025 award year.

The Student Aid Index (SAI) took the place of the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) formula in the revised FAFSA, which was the largest modification. According to the Department of Education, the SAI establishes distinct eligibility requirements for Federal Pell Grants and eliminates the deduction for the number of family members attending college.

Why did the new FAFSA take so long to process?

The Department of Education’s overhaul process caused delays, preventing the FAFSA application process from opening until January, when it was temporarily closed.

The old data was understating the amount of financial aid for which students were eligible, so when it reopened, it had to have its inflation tables updated. This caused a delay in the processing of college applications. Then, on more than 200,000 applications, a federal contractor made another error by computing a different formula incorrectly.


Since then, almost all of the applications that were previously reviewed with known problems have been reprocessed, the agency said on Tuesday.

Application difficulties.

At first, the requirement on FAFSA applications to include the Social Security numbers of their parents kept hundreds of thousands of students who are U.S. s. prevented from submitting their applications are citizens or permanent residents who have non-citizen parents.

Parents affected by the systemic bug will be able to manually enter their tax information and will have a temporary workaround in place for the identity-verification process, the Department of Education announced on Tuesday. Notifying applicants of the procedural change is something the agency promised to do.



Students and their families must make sure they finish the FAFSA before the earliest deadline that applies to their situation. Different colleges, states, and the federal government have different deadlines for submitting the form.

For example, the Department of Education notes that waiting until the end of an academic year is a “bad idea” given other deadlines. However, the federal deadline for the 2023–24 FAFSA form is still open until June 30, 2024.


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