NASFAA Calls on ED to Commit to October 1 FAFSA Launch for 2025-26 Cycle

By Maria Carrasco, NASFAA Staff Reporter

There is still much work to be done with the current FAFSA rollout, but there is also a growing concern that ongoing delays could imperil the upcoming 2025-26 FAFSA, which is why NASFAA is urging the Department of Education (ED) to commit to the traditional October 1 launch date of the aid form. 

NASFAA and NCAN, leading a coalition of roughly two dozen higher education organizations, sent a letter to ED seeking a commitment to the form’s traditional launch date, which would also include the availability of FAFSA processing, school receipt of processed FAFSAs, processing of paper FAFSAs, and FAFSA correction functionality for applicants, schools, and states.

The letter goes on to call on ED for a timely release of the federal student aid estimator, the FAFSA demonstration site, communication and training materials, a user-friendly Pell look-up table, eligibility and technical guides, and an effective process for attaining an FSA ID. 

If ED is unable to commit to an October 1 launch date, the signatories urged the department to communicate a timeline of when the 2025-26 FAFSA will be available as soon as possible. 

The organizations go on to stress their concerns that the 2025-26 FAFSA will be delayed again like the 2024-25 FAFSA, which has been riddled with technical issues, errors, and glitches. The letter notes that there is now less than four months until October 1, the traditional FAFSA release date, and ED has yet to release a draft paper FAFSA form for public comment.That form is typically released in late February. 

“We are concerned that the FAFSA will be delayed again, and that the release date will remain uncertain until just before the form becomes available,” the letter reads. “This approach will lead to a repeat of last year, with schools and counselors unable to plan the counseling and outreach efforts that are needed, colleges unable to ensure a smooth and timely process for generating financial aid offers, and students left in the lurch.”

Another FAFSA delay could have large consequences, the letter notes, as the launch of the 2024-25 FAFSA has currently reported FAFSA completion rates that are 13.5% lower than the previous award year for high school seniors. That’s a drop twice in magnitude compared to FAFSA completion rates during the pandemic.

“Unless the current trajectory changes dramatically, we will again experience a significant decline in college enrollment this fall, during a time when college enrollment is still below pre - pandemic levels,” the letter reads. “Another delayed FAFSA release, combined with vague communication about when the form will open, would have disastrous impacts on students, counselors, and financial aid administrators, deepening the gaps in access and enrollment that resulted from the issue ridden FAFSA rollout this year.”

 

Publication Date: 6/12/2024


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