Higher Ed Groups Urge Flexible Enrollment and Financial Aid Deadlines in the Wake of FAFSA Delays
January 31, 2024

​The Department of Education announced yesterday that higher education institutions and states can expect to receive applicant information from the newly redesigned Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in the “first half of March.” This announcement marks a backtrack on their initial commitment to deliver the information in January.

In response, ACE and nine other higher education associations have issued a call for colleges and universities to provide flexibility to students and families as they consider their offers of admission and financial aid. The associations are concerned that the delay in getting student financial aid information to campuses will make it harder to provide low-income students with sufficient time to make choices about where to enroll.

“It’s not hyperbolic to say that these kinds of delays directly impact how students make decisions,” Jon Fansmith, ACE’s senior vice president of government relations and national engagement, told The New York Times.

Reflecting on the lessons learned during the tumultuous spring of 2020, the associations’ statement underscored the importance of acting quickly, noting that institutions have done this before.

“During the pandemic, many institutions extended their enrollment, scholarship, and financial aid deadlines beyond the traditional May 1 date, and we urge institutions to make similar accommodations this year,” the groups said. “We all want students and families to have the time they need to consider their financial options before making enrollment decisions.”

After a rocky and much-delayed launch, the Deparrtment of Education announced Jan. 8 that the new FAFSA was officially available for students and families to use. Following a preliminary rollout on Dec. 30, just before the federally mandated Jan. 1 deadline for completion, the form was inaccessible to students for the majority of the first few days it was live, and students have since experienced other technical challenges in accessing the application.

A group of House and Senate Republicans last week asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate the launch.

In the News

Colleges Won’t Get FAFSA Data Until March, Delaying Aid Offers
The New York Times (sub. req.) | Jan. 30, 2024

Education Dept. Won’t Send Completed FAFSAs to Colleges Until ‘First Half of March’
The Chronicle of Higher Education (sub. req.) | Jan. 30, 2024

Another ‘Devastating’ FAFSA Delay
Inside Higher Ed | Jan. 31, 2024