Congressional Republicans are once again pressing the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the Department of Education’s (ED) planning for the 2024-25 FAFSA launch, this time digging deeper into the vetting process ED deployed for the new FAFSA. But Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, has gone a step further and called for Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to resign.
Foxx’s call cites a number of issues with Cardona’s management of the department and specifically cites the 2024-25 FAFSA rollout — along with an annual independent audit on ED’s finances that once again was unable to render an opinion of the department’s fiscal year 2023 financial statements — as instances of “abject failure.”
“His Department has so willfully exceeded its statutory authority in its spending spree that it has failed its two most recent audits,” Foxx said on Wednesday. “Now, millions of families and students may lose their chance at an opportunity to pursue postsecondary education because his Department couldn’t properly update the FAFSA even after Congress granted the Department an additional year.”
Foxx also signed onto a joint letter with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), where the GOP leaders are calling for a new GAO-led investigation into ED’s handling of the FAFSA IT system.
Foxx and Cassidy’s first request to GAO concerned challenges faced by students and schools in applying for and administering federal student aid during the 2024-25 cycle.
In their follow-up request the Republicans want to know more about how ED tested the FAFSA IT system before it became available to students, and to what extent the department knew about issues before the rollout.
Foxx and Cassidy, in their joint letter, also take issue with the department’s efforts, dating back to 2021, to modernize the FAFSA IT system. That process was meant to be completed by December of 2023.
“Based on the initial poor user experience, we have significant questions about the extent to which the FAFSA Processing System underwent all needed testing, what system issues were uncovered in testing, and the decision-making process to roll out the system with known issues,” the letter reads.
Publication Date: 2/8/2024