NASFAA Survey Shows Significant Barriers to FAFSA Simplification Implementation Remain

Many offices do not feel on track to roll out significant changes, citing lack of time, lack of federal guidance, and staffing shortages as barriers to implementation.

Contact: Allie Arcese
Director of Communications
[email protected]

WASHINGTON, D.C., FEBRUARY 27, 2023 — Over the last three years, financial aid professionals, federal government officials, and other college access stakeholders have been working toward a significant overhaul of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which is scheduled to be fully implemented in a matter of months. But many financial aid offices say they are facing notable challenges to a smooth implementation, are in need of more guidance, and do not feel prepared for the upcoming changes, according to results from a new survey conducted by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA).

The survey asked participants to rate their institution’s level of preparedness for individual provisions of the FAFSA Simplification Act, the barriers they anticipate in implementing the changes on campus, and their reliance on various resources on FAFSA simplification, among other things. Respondents of the survey consisted of 374 individuals from financial aid offices at public, private, community college, and proprietary institutions of higher education across the country. 

Overall, fewer than one-third of respondents (28%)  indicated they were mostly or completely on track with respect to their institution’s overall level of preparedness for FAFSA simplification, while 59% said they were somewhat on track and 10% said they were not at all on track. The most common barriers to successful implementation identified were lack of time (59%), lack of guidance from the Department of Education (58%), lack of confidence that Student Information System providers will be ready for changes (56%), and staffing shortages (55%).

What’s more, respondents identified several aspects of FAFSA simplification that they believe will place more burden on financial aid offices, including the requirement to report Federal Work-Study earnings to the Department of Education (56%), the change to treatment of multiple family members in college in the Federal Methodology formula (48%), and federal authority to regulate cost of attendance (42%).

“Financial aid professionals are often the first responders when students and families have questions about paying for college, and with such monumental changes to student aid eligibility and the FAFSA looming, they need to be well prepared to ensure a smooth transition and well versed in communicating how those changes will impact their students,” said NASFAA President & CEO Justin Draeger. “What the financial aid community needs now are clear timely training opportunities and a transparent implementation roadmap between now and when the 2024-25 FAFSA will go live.”

In the meantime, NASFAA’s FAFSA Simplification Implementation Working Group continues to meet regularly to advise the Department of Education on its implementation efforts and to provide FAFSA simplification resources for NASFAA’s members. The group will focus its future efforts on the areas respondents indicated they are least prepared as well as those where respondents indicated they were not aware of upcoming changes, especially with respect to FAFSA simplification provisions that become effective in 2023-24. 

To set up an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson to discuss the findings of this survey, please email NASFAA Director of Communications Allie Arcese or call (202) 785-6954.


The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 29,000 financial aid professionals at approximately 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every 10 undergraduates in the U.S. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators.

Publication Date: 2/27/2023

View Desktop Version