"The Education Department sent a letter this week imploring colleges and universities not to make any changes to their financial aid deadlines, despite the earlier availability of the federal government’s application for grants and loans," The Washington Post's Grade Point reports.
"... 'Schools are experiencing a bit of whiplash,' said Justin Draeger, president of [NASFAA]. 'If you’re a school that has institutional aid, you need to have an idea of your applicant pool so you can determine how to best allocate your funds.'
Nearly 3 in 4 college administrators expressed concern about their ability to package aid and notify students earlier, in a recent survey conducted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, a trade group for enrollment managers. Almost one-third of the 480 institutions surveyed had plans to move up deadlines for admissions or scholarships. ...
In this week’s letter, Mitchell acknowledges the challenge of balancing the 'twin objectives of providing award packages earlier and not setting earlier priority deadlines' and suggests that schools adjust their award strategies for students with the most need to have full access to funds, regardless of when they apply. That, he said, may mean analyzing historical trends on when students typically apply for colleges’ financial aid.
Schools already have data on the number of disadvantaged students who come in after their financial aid deadline passes, Draeger said. He has been telling members of the financial aid association to hold money in reserves and increase outreach if they are moving up deadlines.
Most schools, however, are more concerned about the overall effect of the broader changes to FAFSA, he said. Some colleges are worried about whether the department will be ready for the changes by October, whether administrators will have more or less verification to do and what happens in the next two years with families that have different data points on their tax returns."
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Publication Date: 8/10/2016