Bipartisan Group of Senators Urges ED to Provide Clear FAFSA Guidance, Verification Relief

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter

A bipartisan group of 37 senators is warning the Department of Education (ED) that vulnerable student populations could be negatively impacted by the delayed rollout of the 2024-25 FAFSA and is calling on the department to work with the higher education community to ensure the form successfully provides more students with federal student aid.

The signatories include Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the appropriations committee, Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who all expressed concern over the planned release of the FAFSA “by December 31, 2023, with no indication of an actual date,” the letter reads. “This is a considerable departure from the traditional launch date of October 1st.”

“Further, the Department’s latest announcement also revealed that processing delays will take place in the first few months of 2024, meaning that schools will not be able to generate financial aid offers for their students in a timely fashion,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter calls on ED to take 10 actions to ensure that vulnerable student populations — including those who lack reliable broadband access, students in foster care, students experiencing homelessness, first-generation students, and students experiencing financial insecurity — are able to complete the form. The list of actions also includes several of NASFAA’s requests to the department following its latest FAFSA announcement.

Among the requests, the senators call on ED to:

  • Maintain low verification selection rates for the 2024-25 cycle;

  • Encourage institutions of higher education to push back their financial aid deadlines to March 1, at the earliest, so that students, families, and counselors have adequate time to complete the form;

  • Allow institutions to accept electronic copies of verification materials, including electronic signatures; and

  • Offer institutions timely updates on progress and provide them the resources to address students’ questions, concerns, or challenges.

NASFAA has endorsed the letter and is continuing to monitor the planned rollout of the 2024-25 FAFSA form.

 

Publication Date: 12/12/2023


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