Last week, 26 Democratic members of the House and Senate sent a letter to the six presidential higher education associations in Washington, DC, urging institutions to find the right balance between issuing financial aid awards earlier under the new October 1 FAFSA release date and moving up priority financial aid deadlines.
The letter warns that moving up priority aid deadlines “would cause some students––particularly low-income students––to be unable to file their paperwork on time, and as a result these students could lose out on important sources of financial aid they need in order to be successful in higher education.”
While the letter points out an important consideration for institutions to take into account when adjusting deadlines to accommodate Early FAFSA, it also states that institutions should aim to provide aid packages at least a few weeks prior to the May 1 admissions deadline (effectively the same as the current timeline for aid awards). That guidance conflicts with an earlier letter to institutions on PPY and Early FAFSA from Under Secretary Ted Mitchell in March, which asked institutions, beginning with the 2017-18 academic year “to consider providing earlier award notifications in order to maximize the benefits to students and their families consistent with the President’s Early FAFSA Initiative.” Mitchell reiterated this sentiment in his general remarks to the NASFAA membership at the National Conference in Washington, DC early last week.
NASFAA has been in touch with the Department of Education (ED) concerning the mixed messages that are being sent to institutions regarding aid priority deadlines and packaging, and has also made them aware that many institutions are not making any changes until after the first implementation year. In addition, NASFAA has pointed out that many institutions are unable to release packages earlier without moving up priority deadlines and that many of these institutional deadlines are driven by the movement of state aid deadlines.
NASFAA will continue to seek clarification on this issue and encourages institutions to be thoughtful in the changing of any deadlines related to Early FAFSA and PPY. In the meantime, your president may receive a copy of this letter from your institution's presidential association (American Council on Education; Association of American Universities; Association of Public and Land Grant Universities; American Association of State Colleges and Universities, or American Association of Community Colleges). Please email NASFAA’s Policy and Federal Relations Team (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions or concerns.
Publication Date: 7/18/2016