The Department of Education this weekend has begun its soft launch of the overhauled 2024-25 FAFSA, during which time the application will be available to students and families periodically as the department pulls the form down from time to time to perform maintenance and address any potential issues.
As a reminder, ED announced plans for a soft launch in mid-December, noting that during this time, students and families that do access the form will not need to resubmit the form once the soft launch ends. The department has not specified how long the soft launch will last, nor when the planned pauses will take place.
Federal Student Aid (FSA) has stressed that applicants do not need to rush to complete the application during the soft launch since FSA will not transmit Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) to institutions until later in January.
During planned maintenance pauses, applicants who are already online and in the process of filling out their FAFSA will be able to complete their work, but others may not be able to begin or resume work on the 2024-25 FAFSA form. The department has said that users who are unable to access the form during the soft launch should check back at a later time to access the form once any planned maintenance has been completed. Applicants may also experience a waiting room feature to help control web traffic volume and “ensure optimal performance of the form,” FSA said earlier this month.
The soft launch follows increased pressure from lawmakers and the higher education community over concerns about how the delayed roll-out could impact vulnerable student populations and underscored the importance of a clear communications campaign to keep schools informed about any changes to the application timeline. NASFAA earlier this month sent a letter to ED and FSA officials urging them to communicate realistic time frames and expectations to students.
As a reminder, ED has committed to releasing the FAFSA by December 31, 2023 and institutions will begin receiving Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) by the end of January 2024.
As the soft launch period unfolds, FSA urges institutions, state agencies, and college access partners to direct students and families to StudentAid.gov, which will be updated with the latest guidance.
Publication Date: 12/31/2023