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FAFSA Update and Flexible Reply Dates for Students and Families

I am the first to tell you that I am not an expert on FAFSA and filling out

I am the first to tell you that I am not an expert on FAFSA and filling out the forms. However, it is common knowledge that this new FAFSA rollout was rough and was supposed to be easier than the past forms. No question about it, there are some glitches. These glitches have to do with the late roll out, as I am sure you are aware. For whatever reason, this new rollout was more complex than realized. It has impacted when the Financial Aid results will be awarded and because of this, many universities will be extending their ‘rsvp’ dates. I cannot tell you how many, or which universities will be doing this, but what I can tell you, is that you need to watch your email communications from your universities. Many are extending those dates so you can compare your financial aid awards with care. The normal date of response is by May 1, many are giving families time to dates around mid May. It sounds like, FAFSA will be ready to be received by April. 

No doubt, this is a stressful time for the Financial Aid offices at university, and if phoning them for advice, be calm and understanding. This late roll out had nothing to do with them at all. You just have to be on your toes more than ever to navigate this allegedly less confusing form. Below, you will see an announcement from the government: 

This week, the Department announced a number of updates in support of 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) implementation (press release).

First, the Department updated how it calculates the amount of aid students will receive, in order to be in full alignment with the FAFSA Simplification Act. The update will not affect the agency’s timeline for delivering completed applications to schools, and, combined with other implementation efforts, a total of 7.3 million students are expected to be eligible for federal Pell Grants in the 2024-25 award year. Since the 2024-25 FAFSA form became available on December 30, 2023, more than 4.7 million forms have been successfully submitted.

Second, the Department began to deploy support from the Federal Student Aid (FSA) office and non-profit organizations to lower-resourced institutions as part of the FAFSA College Support Strategy. Personnel will conduct needs-assessments and provide dedicated help to schools that are preparing for and processing student aid offer packages. The agency has received inquiries from over 100 colleges through FSA’s concierge service and followed up to identify the specific needs for each. The agency has also started proactively reaching out to institutions with high Pell Grant enrollment, resource constraints, and other needs to offer support.

Third, the Department is sending system-generated Institutional Student Information Records, or ISIRs, to schools and their vendors to process student records faster and more efficiently. This action builds on the test ISIRs shared with colleges in February. The agency will continue to update more test ISIRs and open-source tools stored in a public repository (see also FSA Electronic Announcement).

Moreover, last week, the Department shared that contributors without a Social Security number will be able to successfully submit FAFSA forms and outlined a process that allows students affected by this issue who need to meet state and institutional aid or scholarship deadlines to submit an incomplete FAFSA before the issue is fully resolved.

The Department continues to provide updates and resources on its Better FAFSA landing page.

Best of luck to you all as offers come in to your students. 


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