A new FAFSA setback means many college financial aid offers won’t come until April

When that repair was introduced, Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the Nationwide Affiliation of Scholar Monetary Help Directors (NASFAA), stated it was “the appropriate factor to do.”

Undersecretary of Training James Kvaal stated in an announcement Tuesday, “Updating our calculations will assist college students qualify for as a lot monetary assist as attainable. Thanks to the monetary assist advisers, faculty counselors, and lots of others serving to us put college students first.”

Kvaal and the division know this delay will hit faculty monetary assist workplaces particularly arduous and additional compress their timeline for sending out monetary assist affords. Draeger tells NPR that if faculties don’t obtain FAFSA knowledge till early to mid-March, lots of them probably received’t be capable of ship monetary assist affords to college students till April. For a lot of of these college students, that leaves lower than a month earlier than they’re anticipated to commit to a school.

Charles Conn, a prime assist administrator at Cal Poly Pomona, tells NPR he’s “relieved” the Training Division is fixing that $1.eight billion mistake, however “our hearts sank as we realized that faculties will no longer start receiving FAFSA knowledge till the primary a part of March, on the earliest.”

“It’s going to be troublesome to get assist affords out to potential college students earlier than April,” says Brad Barnett, the monetary assist director at James Madison College in Virginia. “It’s unlucky that these delays might influence whether or not a potential pupil goes to varsity in any respect this fall, or on the very least the place they go.”

The issue for faculties — which, by extension, is now an issue for households too — is that, as a result of this yr’s FAFSA is the results of a massive overhaul, monetary assist workplaces aren’t completely certain what to anticipate from the information they’ll be receiving. Ideally, they’d like a number of weeks to grasp the brand new datasets and do some high quality management of the brand new monetary assist course of.

“Colleges are furiously transforming their timelines to see simply how rapidly they might flip round monetary assist affords for college students, to get them correct assist affords as quickly as attainable,” says Draeger of NASFAA. However he factors out, “This may very well be harder for under-resourced establishments that lack the funding, staffing, or know-how capabilities of their friends.”

This new setback provides faculties little or no room for error.

Scott Skaro, the monetary assist director at United Tribes Technical School, in North Dakota, says this new FAFSA timeline will likely be robust on tribal schools, the place greater than 80% of scholars are low revenue and qualify for a federal Pell Grant.

“That is fairly devastating information,” says Skaro.

It’s good, he says, that the division is performing to ensure college students get all the help they’re entitled to, however not with the ability to make assist affords to potential college students till April or Might might additionally do actual hurt.

“Our college students depend on the peace of thoughts that comes with grant assist. And this uncertainty might lead them away from training. I don’t need the seniors of 2024 to be only a misplaced technology.”

He worries that the longer seniors have to attend to know if faculty is reasonably priced, the tougher will probably be for some to withstand “the temptations to only discover some entry-level job and quit on extra education. I simply fear what number of there are on the market.”

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see extra, go to https://www.npr.org.

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