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Cardona sends FAFSA recommendations to states as applications lag amid multiple problems

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona sent a letter to governors Tuesday outlining recommendations to help increase completion of Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms and ease stress on students in the process. 

The new FAFSA rollout has had a bumpy ride, from getting off to a late start in January to calculation errors in 200,000 forms that were sent to universities recently.  

“Today, I’m writing to a) share additional steps the Department has taken to support students, families, and institutions during this unprecedented transition, and b) outline steps you can take in your state to encourage students to complete the 2024-25 Better FAFSA and support institutions of higher education in your state as they prepare financial aid packages,” Cardona said in the letter.  

The department has five recommendations for governors due to the FAFSA delays and compounding issues. 

Cardona wants governors to adjust their state financial aid timelines and push colleges to delay institutional decision ones. States should also ensure they have the budgets and support in place for their agencies to be able to complete the work in a timely manner. 

Lastly, the department wants states to work closely with the K-12 system to reach as many high schoolers as possible to encourage them to complete the FAFSA forms.  

“I know you are committed to helping students access the college and career pathways that can help them achieve their dreams, expand economic mobility, and meet the workforce demands of your state and our nation,” Cardona said. “Together, we’ll deliver a Better FAFSA and transform student financial aid for generations to come.” 

Currently, more than 6.3 million FAFSA applications have been submitted to the department. A typical FAFSA cycle ends with around 17 million completed applications.

This cycle, however, has not been typical, with the forms available three months later than normal and schools not receiving the financial aid information until March. Experts are not confident the department will reach the average number of completed forms this year.

Multiple colleges have already moved back their decision deadlines, which normally occur on May 1, due to the constrained timeline where students may only receive an offer letter a few weeks before the beginning of May.

Source: The Hill

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