ED Updates Governors on FAFSA Rollout, Urges States to Support Institutions Preparing Aid Packages

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Managing Editor

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, in a letter to state governors on Tuesday, outlined steps that state-level stakeholders can take to encourage students to complete the 2024-25 FAFSA and to support institutions preparing financial aid packages.

The letter provided a recap of the updated timeline for processing FAFSA applications and reiterated that the Department of Education (ED) aims to clear the backlog of applications that have already been submitted in the coming weeks.

Cardona outlined the ways in which states can work to increase FAFSA completion rates for their students, including encouraging states to adjust and delay their deadlines for state financial aid, and asking them to urge college and university leaders to delay their deadlines, so that students have time to review their aid packages.

“For states that distribute aid on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis, it’s critical to ensure your funds do not deplete early so that all students who qualify for state grant aid are able to access funds later in the cycle,” Cardona wrote.

In terms of preparation, Cardona also urged governors to ensure that their states are assessing the impact that FAFSA simplification will have on “budgeting, design, and distribution of grant programs” due to changes in eligibility calculations.

Cardona stressed the importance of states evaluating their capacity to support and provide resources to institutions processing student aid. If states have concerns about institutional staffing needed to process aid packaging in a timely manner, they should reach out and connect with the College Support Concierge mailbox so that they can access more resources to process aid packages.

The letter went on to encourage states to engage in outreach activities with student communities by hosting a FAFSA completion night, and to deploy college counselors to high schools to help raise awareness of the FAFSA.

In the letter, Cardona expressed optimism that FAFSA completion rates could surpass that of the 2023 class.

“Just over half of the high school class of 2023 completed a FAFSA,” Cardona wrote. “The newer, Better FAFSA takes just 15-20 minutes to fill out—so the class of 2024 in your state can easily surpass that completion rate.”


Publication Date: 3/27/2024

Ryan C | 3/27/2024 2:41:45 PM

When they make the movie, I vote for Jon Favreau to play Cardona :)

Korinne P | 3/27/2024 2:9:55 PM

I sometimes wonder if I could be more appalled by the audacity of the Secretary and FSA, but they prove me wrong every day. I'm tired of the artificial positivity and am now looking to NASFAA to finally address their misleading assertions head-on. Enough already.

Peter G | 3/27/2024 12:4:19 PM

"“For states that distribute aid on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis, it’s critical to ensure your funds do not deplete early so that all students who qualify for state grant aid are able to access funds later in the cycle,” Cardona wrote."


David S | 3/27/2024 11:16:41 AM

I think by now my advice to the Secretary would be "if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging."

I really fear that this will do years of damage to people's trust in the financial aid process, and once we think we have all of the info and have sent all aid notifications, how many students and families will have faith that everything has been accurately calculated and there won't be any more surprises later? Will they fear disbursements will be similarly delayed? I suggest everyone get ready for these types of concerns and the impact they could have on yield and enrollment.

And not just students and parents...how can we be confident that everything is accurate after sending out 1000's of offers?

Joshua M | 3/27/2024 10:19:53 AM

so glad government is here to 'help'. Cardona to the rescue!

James C | 3/27/2024 8:22:10 AM

I am speechless at the fake optimism. I am pretty sure state agencies have thought about/planned all the things the Secretary mentioned. The agencies don't need an incompetent US Dep't of Ed to tell them how to do their job.

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