Check our our Featured Events!

ED Acknowledges ‘Tremendously Difficult Year’ and Provides a Federal Policy Update at NASFAA 2024

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Managing Editor

It’s been a year of new “f-words” for the Department of Education (ED) and the financial aid community at large trying to navigate the rollout of the 2024-25 FAFSA form in tandem with changes happening across the Title IV programs.

During a Tuesday morning session from department officials, including remarks from Richard Cordray, outgoing chief operating officer at Federal Student Aid (FSA), attendees learned about expanded access to financial aid, the return to repayment for all student loan borrowers after the prolonged payment pause, the substantial expansion of loan forgiveness programs and improved repayment options, and new enhancements to the systems that financial aid professionals use.

ED officials told attendees that they were appreciative of their candor with how the department can best carry out their FAFSA guidance. They also thanked the financial aid community for navigating the challenges of the past year, and apologized for the added angst that the 2024-25 FAFSA rollout has caused.

The department also acknowledged that the outcomes of FAFSA simplification have been unexpected, but that they believe the change will be for the better, and that they are on the path toward a better application in the future.

In his remarks, Cordray formally acknowledged that the deployment of the new FAFSA has been a major challenge, and that the overhaul of the form, along with new compliance requirements with the IRS, has been a huge project. Further, the work on backend processing took the department longer to implement than it planned, Cordray said.

As of Tuesday, Cordray said that 11.3 million people have submitted FAFSA forms for 2024-25. He acknowledged that this total still remains behind the pace of last year's submission rate but expressed confidence that the department was on track to surpass last year’s numbers over the summer.

During Cordray’s three-year tenure, the portfolio for FSA has been a heavy load and he acknowledged that the department hasn’t gotten everything right. While officials have been hard pressed to keep up with their work, Cordray said that ultimately that the administration’s agenda will help students succeed in higher education with more students qualifying for maximum Pell Grants.

Further, Cordray explained that the three-and-a-half year payment pause provided students with breathing room that allowed the department to overhaul the broken student loan forgiveness programs.

Additionally, Cordray also highlighted how the department has overhauled several systems like Partner Connect 2.0 and its unified USDS reboot for loan servicing.

Officials from ED then provided attendees with a federal policy update, with a focus on regulations made through negotiated rulemaking, like gainful employment (GE) and financial value transparency (FVT), with rules going into effect July 1.

During a Q&A session, attendees urged ED to consider adjusting the October 1 reporting deadline for GE and FVT, and officials promised to take comments back to the department. On Monday, NASFAA submitted to ED its response to the department’s second request for comments on its GE and FVT institutional reporting requirements.


Publication Date: 6/18/2024

Gregory G | 6/24/2024 7:15:43 AM

I agree Deidre. I have done the Department of Education's job, educating families about the FAFSA, administering aid, implementing change, countless volunteer financial aid nights, training colleagues across the country, and making a positive difference in the field. Aid adminstrators don't receive forgiveness, yet the well-paid, well pensioned, federal employees do. In some regards, it isn't much different than the golden parachute who land softly, on the back of those who carried the load of this failed roll-out. A roll-out that will devastate the country's educational attainment rate for years to come. And, to think, as a Federal Performance Based Organization, no one, not a Senator, a Represenative, or even the President can or will hold them accountable. Administrative Accountability does NOT apply to them - they have proven themselves to clearly be untouchable. As Under Secretary Kvaal has said, their number priority is enforcement against colleges and universities. I think the time for aid administrators to unionize is NOW.

Deidre T | 6/20/2024 3:10:39 PM

I think the Financial Aid Directors and Counselors should have all their student loans forgiven. This has been the most stressful year in my 27 year career of Financial Aid, all the problems, nothing working, the delays, sleepless nights, and the praying!!!! There is no way a small Private College can make it, after 55 years in business the Institution I work at is closing its doors, we can't hire enough people to fill all the additional paperwork. GE and new regulations, that has to be done. So, July 5th it is all over. I wonder how many Financial Aid professionals have left their career, is there anyone at the Department of Education that really cares???????

You must be logged in to comment on this page.

Comments Disclaimer: NASFAA welcomes and encourages readers to comment and engage in respectful conversation about the content posted here. We value thoughtful, polite, and concise comments that reflect a variety of views. Comments are not moderated by NASFAA but are reviewed periodically by staff. Users should not expect real-time responses from NASFAA. To learn more, please view NASFAA’s complete Comments Policy.