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'Inexcusable': Senators grill Education secretary over botched FAFSA roll out

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the Department of Education is working around the clock to make sure the FAFSA process improves, after major delays and a troubled roll out of the new financial aid form.

“We’ve had delays, we’ve had issues with some of the coding that we had to make changes to,” Cardona said.

Lawmakers grilled Sec. Cardona about the roll out during a hearing on Tuesday, just one day before May 1, which in normal circumstances is considered college decision day for many high schoolers around the country.

“Many of those who have managed to overcome the difficulties and submit their FAFSAs are still left in the dark about what financial aid they are eligible for in the fall,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said.

Many colleges and universities around the country have been forced to push back their decision deadlines as some students still wait to hear back about financial aid offers. The updated form has been plagued with delays and errors. In a normal year, the form is made available in October, but that deadline was pushed back to December 2023.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) echoed several other lawmakers’ frustrations calling the rollout “inexcusable and inexplicable.”  

Cardona told lawmakers that corrections have been made and forms are now accurately processing.

“We made those corrections, and we are accurately processing information, and to be very frank with you, I’ve been hearing students are getting their letters,” Cardona said.

Lawmakers expressed concerns that the upcoming October FAFSA deadline could be delayed. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) asked Cardona if he could commit to an on-time launch for next year’s FAFSA.

“That is our expectation, to reach that Oct. 1 deadline,” Cardona said.

Cardona acknowledged the challenges with the new form and said the Department of Education is “doing everything to make it right.”

Colleges and universities use FAFSA data to award students financial aid. In 2020, Congress ordered for the FAFSA form to be updated in an effort to simplify it and expand federal aid to more students.

Source: The Hill

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