Disappointing news about FAFSA for college-bound students in NJ
💲 FAFSA information won't reach colleges until at least March
💲 The Department of Education made the announcement this week
💲 Students and families are still encouraged to file FAFSA forms now
The hits keep on coming regarding the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid process.
Since the form went live on Dec. 30 in a soft launch, more than 3.1 million FAFSA forms have been submitted, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
“As part of our continuing commitment to put students first, we will ensure students and their families receive all the aid they are entitled to receive,” the department said.
That being said, the DOE released an electronic announcement this week, saying it has delayed the FAFSA transmission to colleges until the middle of March.
The announcement goes on to say that the Department has updated the supporting tables used in the Student Aid Index (SAI) calculation, ensuring that students are benefitting from approximately an additional 1.8 billion in aid.
These tables, which directly impact eligibility for need-based federal student aid, detail the allowances against income and assets reported by students and their families on the FAFSA form.
“In the coming weeks, our teams will be updating the Federal Processing System (FPS) to include the updated tables. Based upon estimations for completing that work, the Department will begin transmitting batches of FAFSA information to schools and state agencies in the first half of March,” the Department said.
Once students file the FAFSA, they will receive an email informing them that their form has been fully processed and their FAFSA information has been sent to the schools they listed on their form.
Students can access their FAFSA Submission Summary by logging into www.studentaid.gov.
The Department will fully process paper applications in the weeks following, and colleges will begin receiving batches of FAFSA information starting in March.
The CEO of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, Angel Perez, was disappointed.
“As a former admission officer and college advisor, I am well aware of the extraordinary challenges this change creates, not just for students and families, but also for institutions. Without data from the Department of Education, institutions will not be able to produce financial aid awards and manage their enrollment and tuition revenue models,” he said in a released statement.
It will also be difficult for them to plan class selection, housing needs, student support services, and so much more until later than normal. This, in turn, will shorten the amount of time they have to prepare for their incoming and returning classes of students.
With colleges not receiving FAFSA information until March, at the earliest, students may not receive letters of financial aid until the middle of April, or even later.
Just keep in mind that everyone is in the same boat with this and that the colleges and universities around the county are fully aware of what is happening with the FAFSA and the Department of Education, said John Tillman, President of Ecliptic Financial Advisors in Sea Girt.
He also advised that despite this news, every student and their families should be filling out and filing their FAFSA forms now.
“You want it in so that when they do eventually send the schools the information, it’s done and in that group,” Tillman said.
Typically, May 1 is College Decision Day, when high school seniors around the nation make their final decisions about where they will attend college for the upcoming academic year. During the COVID pandemic, the schools moved that date to June 1.
Will that happen again this year due to the latest FAFSA snafu? No announcement has been made yet, so stay tuned.
LOOK: Counties with the highest unemployment in New Jersey
Gallery Credit: Stacker