By Maria Carrasco, NASFAA Staff Reporter
NASFAA, along with the National College Attainment Network (NCAN), recently sent a joint letter to the Domestic Policy Council and Department of Education (ED) asking the administration to confirm that the 2024-25 FAFSA will be live on Oct. 1, 2023, and if not, to confirm when will the 2024-25 FAFSA be released.
In the letter, the two organizations stressed the importance of an October 1 launch date for the 2024-25 FAFSA, writing that it is critical to ensure a smooth implementation for aid offices. The FAFSA Simplification Act makes “unprecedented changes” to the federal student aid process and “impacts all areas of the experience from application to eligibility determination,” the letter argues.
And while aid offices are already preparing to guide students through the 2024-25 application process, they need a clear understanding of when the FAFSA will be made available, more information from ED, and training to ensure a smooth rollout.
“During the FSA Training Conference, we were heartened by the progress the Department of Education (ED) has made toward implementing the changes from the FAFSA Simplification Act, which was signed into law in December 2020,” the letter states. “However, after listening closely, neither ED nor FSA officials confirmed the date the FAFSA would be made available. College financial aid administrators and access professionals need that information now in order to plan how best to help students and families apply for and receive student financial aid.”
However, if the October 1 date cannot be met, the letter notes that Federal Student Aid (FSA) needs to “clearly and thoroughly” communicate its implementation and training schedules, with dates on when draft and final application forms will be made available. The letter argues that without adequate time to prepare, institutions and counselors may not be able to align their systems and processes due to the short timeline, or be able to provide the services and support that students will need to complete the FAFSA.
Specifically, the letter notes that schedules for file layouts, software developer specifications, draft applications, and output documents indicate only a planned season for release. With October 1 less than 10 months away, NASFAA and NCAN say they are becoming “increasingly concerned” that they don’t have a detailed milestones document that includes dates for testing.
Institutions are already in the process of setting their own timelines to begin making financial aid offers in the fall, the letter states. A delayed launch of the 2024-25 FAFSA would “be a great loss” to students and create extra work for aid offices. However, if a delay is necessary to ensure a smooth implementation, the letter argues that stakeholders must be informed immediately.
Additionally, FSA should create resources and tools that will make it easier for applicants to understand the financial aid that will be available to them, and provide timely updates and training to partners about the upcoming changes in the new FAFSA.
“FSA officials were clear at the FSA Training Conference that their focus is on changing a process, not just a form,” the letter states. “It is essential to recognize the process extends beyond ED and FSA, to the financial aid administrators and college access professionals who humanize the process to make it a successful experience for students.”
Publication Date: 1/9/2023
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