U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Monday addressed NASFAA’s 2024 Leadership & Legislative Conference & Expo to announce a new partnership, the “FAFSA College Support Strategy,” which seeks to provide institutions with additional resources so that they can best prepare to process student records as quickly and accurately as possible.
As a part of Monday’s announcement, Cardona also said that ED will begin releasing test versions of Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) within the next two weeks.
“I know I'm in the right crowd when I say ISIRs and people clap,” Cardona said.
Further, the department says it has been “actively working” with financial aid system developers to ensure that colleges and states are best prepared for the release of the test data.
ED has taken a three-step approach to the new FAFSA support strategy. Namely, they are planning to deploy federal personnel and expertise to colleges to help prepare them for financial aid forms, directing up to $50 million in federal funding for technical assistance and support to under-resourced schools, and releasing tools that will help schools prepare to deliver their financial aid packages.
“We are determined to get this right. We must, and we will,” Cardona said, noting that he himself had never filled out the FAFSA due to the form’s complexity, even though he knew he’d be eligible for aid. “Our hope is that these steps we’re announcing today are going to go a long way toward helping colleges and universities make the most of the Better FAFSA.”
The department has decided to focus on lower-resourced schools that may have fewer administrative staff in their financial aid offices and older software systems.
According to ED, the main goal is to ensure that schools are able to accelerate their development of student aid packages and to give students adequate time to evaluate their options for postsecondary education programs.
ED anticipates that the majority of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) will be able to access these new resources.
“When we look for these experts in the field, who do we turn to? One of these nonprofits is NASFAA,” Cardona said. “We recognize that you are experts and we want to take advantage of your expertise. These nonprofit entities will recruit financial aid professionals to provide additional staffing capacity to ensure systems are ready , staff that are trained to get their aid packages in time to make informed decisions.
More details about Monday’s announcement will be forthcoming.
Be sure to keep up with NASFAA's social media channels throughout the week for updates and photos from the conference, and utilize the hashtag #NASFAALeads24 to keep up with what members are talking about.
Publication Date: 2/6/2024