FAFSA delays

Some Colleges Alter 2024 Enrollment Deadlines Due to FAFSA Delays

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) released a searchable list of colleges that have announced partial or complete changes to their enrollment deadlines for students graduating high school in spring 2024 and matriculating into college as freshmen in autumn 2024. The changes are almost exclusively due to the ongoing delays in financial aid reporting by federal agencies due to glitches in data collection in the newly updated and completely digital FAFSA.

For the last decade, the federal government opened the FAFSA for submission beginning on October 1st of year school year. Previously, students could submit both paper-based forms and digital forms, although students were encouraged to use the digital form. 


FAFSA Delays: New Deadline

This school year, the federal government announced that the FAFSA was delayed until sometime in December, which turned out to be December 31st, falling in the winter break that almost every school in the country takes during the last week or two of the calendar year. The only way to complete and submit the FAFSA this year is through the new digital form, as mandated by a law passed by Congress and signed by the President several years ago.

In addition to the shift to solely a digital form, the new law enforced several changes designed to make completing the FAFSA simpler and less stressful. Students are no longer expected to complete the entire form themselves. Now, students must invite one or more parents/guardians to register for a Federal Student Aid ID (FSAID) so they can fill out their own portion of their student’s FAFSA. 


Does This Make the FAFSA Harder?

In theory, this should make completing the FAFSA easier. Students no longer have to track down their parents’ information to enter manually. The student portion of the form is far easier than in previous versions of the FAFSA. As for the parents, their primary responsibility is to digitally sign a document giving the FAFSA form permission to access their tax documents on the IRS website. Even the parents don’t need to manually enter income and tax information anymore.

The theory falls apart, however, her to several frustrating chokepoints in the parent invitation process. First, the new FAFSA is very fussy about how students enter their parents’ information into the form. Many students don’t know their parents’ social security numbers. Some students are unsure of the spelling of their parents’ full names, as they generally know them by the nicknames or shortened names they are addressed by. Second, many parents, like most working adults, have multiple email addresses. The new FAFSA is very strict about which email address the student uses to invite their parent(s). Remember, many of these parents already helped their older children complete a FAFSA in years past, and some of these parents have completed a FAFSA for themselves, in the event that they have recently attended college or graduate school as an adult.


Issued Caused by The FAFSA Delays

Additionally, there have been technical glitches in the data collection and financial aid calculations once students have fully submitted the FAFSA and all required forms. The federal student aid agency has stated that there have been some errors in their calculations, leading to them missing the March 1, 2024 deadline for releasing initial financial aid awards data to colleges. This release of vital information is delayed at least until the middle of April 2024, possibly longer. 

Colleges usually announce acceptances for regular deadline admissions starting in early April and historically have expected students to make their final choice by May 1st. This is the deadline that colleges are pushing back, so students have more time to make an informed decision, especially students who are accepted to multiple colleges. Those students often consider financial aid and scholarship packages in making the decision of what college to attend.

Now that some colleges have decided to delay that deadline while others have not, it is more important than ever for students and parents to know where they are in the college admissions process.



Author: Jason Breitkopf