‘College Decision Day’ Passes, FAFSA in Flux

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FASFA Photo

Although May 1 is known as “College Decision Day,”  many high school seniors remain in a state of uncertainty as they await financial aid updates.

Under a major overhaul by the Biden administration, required by Congress, a new FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application was released for 2024-2025. The updated form aims to streamline the process for filling out the FAFSA form with the goal of making more low-income students eligible for federal student aid. The Department of Education has estimated that 610,000 more students will qualify for the Pell Grant.

However, delays, glitches, and a calculation error resulted in hundreds of thousands of applications to be reprocessed. As a result, colleges and universities are receiving delayed applications riddled with errors.

In the latest turn of events, as a result of criticism over the bumpy rollout, Richard Cordray, the chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid, announced last week that he will step down. On Tuesday, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency for education due to the ongoing issues

As of April 23, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators reported that only about half of higher education institutions had distributed financial aid packages to some or all students. 

However, the Department of Education announced Tuesday that things should improve, reporting that it has completed reprocessing forms that were sent to institutions with errors and that it is processing applications quickly and accurately. A form completed today is expected to be sent to institutions within one to three days

For many families, college decisions are made based on financial aid packages. Although May 1 is traditionally the date required by colleges and universities for students to decide if they will enroll by the fall, many have pushed back their deadlines. For institutions that haven’t, students are forced to make tough calls without complete details.