FSA Provides Federal Student Aid Update for LLCE Attendees with an Open Discussion

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter

Delays in the overhauled 2024-25 FAFSA and the delivery of applicant data have been top of mind for financial aid professionals, and on Tuesday, officials from Federal Student Aid (FSA) joined NASFAA’s 2024 Leadership & Legislative Conference & Expo to discuss key updates to federal student aid policies, including the FAFSA rollout.

Officials underscored that successful implementation of the 2024-25 FAFSA has been, and will continue to be, a top priority for Secretary Miguel Cardona, who spoke to the conference on Monday.

The session touched on a number of topics, including key insight and further background of the process that went into the FAFSA launch, and how department officials are focused on solutions to reported problems. Officials also detailed trends they are seeing with application data and next steps for the rollout. Specifically, the officials said they were noticing a continued uptick in form submissions and that while it is difficult to compare to previous years, they remained confident that students would begin to catch up to previous years’ submission rates.

FSA also noted that for students able to complete the form, the process has been smooth and in many reported instances completed in under 10 minutes.

FSA officials also reminded attendees that the maximum Pell Grant award for the 2024-25 award year have not been finalized, as Congress is still working through its annual appropriations cycle. Once appropriations have been finalized, ED will release the information to schools. Pell Grant estimated awards presented to applicants after completion of the 2024-25 FAFSA are currently based on the 2023-24 maximum award of $7,395.

An official from the department also provided some insight into outstanding FAFSA completion issues that applicants are encountering. They are prioritizing resolution of those issues that prevent completion of the FAFSA, particularly situations where a FAFSA contributor does not have a Social Security Number (SSN).

ED said it has data showing that some parents of students who indicate that their parent(s) do not have a SSN actually have one. The department has hypothesized that students might not know their parents’ SSNs so they continue on with the form indicating their parent is without a SSN.

FSA also said it is working on several wording updates to the form to help address some user experience issues. Some applicants appear to be struggling with how to answer the question asking for the date the student became a legal resident of their state in cases where the student has lived in the state for their entire life. Additional language will be added to direct applicants to answer with their date of birth. ED has also observed an uptick in the portion of applicants indicating they would like to be considered for an unsubsidized loan only, so they are working to clarify the wording.

Throughout the conversation, officials also discussed concerns stemming from verification rates, Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) delivery dates, the batch delivery process of ISIRs, and the order in which FAFSAs would be processed, much of which remains still to be determined. FSA officials reaffirmed that they were listening closely to the financial aid community and closely examining how these policies could impact students given ISIR delays.

The panel also conducted an extensive Q&A, where members were able to share their perspective with officials and NASFAA staff was able to directly question the department on how the delays in the FAFSA process could impact schools and concerns over how ED’s rollout could result in challenges for creating equity in awarding aid.

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: 2/7/2024

Perry D | 2/9/2024 11:12:13 AM

Also discussed was that many students are answering "yes" to the question asking for an unsub loan and therefore unable to put in their parent income. I think that is a bigger issue than either of the two mentioned here.

David R | 2/7/2024 11:15:03 AM

If this session was recorded, it would be great to share it with the entire NASFAA community.

Charles M | 2/7/2024 10:56:56 AM

For the portion ..."The department has hypothesized that students might not know their parents’ SSNs"... I absolutely think that's accurate, but I'm not sure why it's taken this long to realize students are very unlikely to know their parent's SSN. I don't personally know either of my parents' SSNs and I doubt many of the folks at ED working on this project know their parent's SSN. It might also be likely that some parents prefer not to share their SSN with their student.
Some (or more) consumer testing would have been extremely helpful and I fully believe process changes could have been made if that kind of development process had been followed.

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