ED Initiates 2024-25 FAFSA Soft Launch, With Periodic Maintenance Outages

By Allie Arcese, Sr. Director of Strategic Communications & Engagement

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. 

Read More: December 15 Electronic Announcement on 2024-25 FAFSA Soft Launch

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.

Read More: 2024-25 FAFSA Status Updates From Department of Education

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

Jeff A | 1/3/2024 2:4:30 PM

Administrative Capability hypocrisy?
ED has been extremely focused and efficient in finding ways to forgive loans.
They have been very focused on producing massive new regulatory burdens, likely without the bandwidth to implement them in an administratively capable manner.

Would you say their focus should have been on the fundamental requirements? Or focused on producing onerous, arbitrary and capricious regs that should not stand up to legal challenges?

Timothy D | 1/2/2024 12:43:23 PM

Our state has planned FAFSA events beginning next week at high schools throughout the state. Worried that nobody will be able to do the FAFSA at these events.

David S | 1/2/2024 9:28:07 AM

My fear all along is that, while we obviously could do nothing to make the FAFSA available earlier/on time, some of us may get Presidents and Deans and VP's and students and parents asking us "well, if you knew there would be a delay, why didn't you provide a workaround?" As obvious as it is to all of us , we all might want to be prepared with a "let me explain to you why the Financial Aid Office can't just whip up an alternative FAFSA" explanation.

James C | 1/2/2024 9:6:01 AM

oops typo below. That should be "determine" not deter,one

James C | 1/2/2024 9:5:09 AM

This language on the FSA website is awful "You can complete the form to apply for financial aid to help pay for attendance at college between July 1, 2024 and June 30, 2025. You will have plenty of time to complete the FAFSA Form."

It should read... "You can complete the FAFSA form to cover 2024-25 college expenses. Although it is not necessary to complete the form now, please check with your college and state grant agencies to deter,one any filing deadlines."

Scott K | 1/2/2024 8:51:27 AM

Are the "planned maintenance" times going to be published? Our prospective students visiting our campus usually stop in to see the Financial Aid Dept. for assistance with completing the FAFSA, which tends to be a major determining factor before enrollment. If we knew when the site is expected to be down, we can plan student visits more effectively.

Kelly M | 1/1/2024 12:10:43 PM

Our community college students who are January admits are having difficulty accessing the 2023-24 FAFSA during the planned site outages. There is also new language that makes it less intuitive for students who are still completing the "current" FAFSA, which will be the case for our students through 6/30/24 for spring and summer terms. There is a one-line "Need to access last year's form? Start or Edit a 2023–24 FAFSA Form" at the bottom of the 2024-25 information that is not easy to locate and has confusing messaging by indicating it is "last year's form".

You must be logged in to comment on this page.

Comments Disclaimer: NASFAA welcomes and encourages readers to comment and engage in respectful conversation about the content posted here. We value thoughtful, polite, and concise comments that reflect a variety of views. Comments are not moderated by NASFAA but are reviewed periodically by staff. Users should not expect real-time responses from NASFAA. To learn more, please view NASFAA’s complete Comments Policy.

Related Content

FAFSA Update: 2025-26


Other Financial Assistance (OFA) and Changes in Emergency Aid


View Desktop Version