Colleges should extend May 1 decision deadline amid FAFSA delays, higher ed groups say

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Dive Brief:

  • Nine higher education organizations are urging colleges to extend their decision deadlines beyond May 1 for prospective students amid further financial aid delays by the U.S. Department of Education. 
  • On Tuesday, the Education Department said colleges will not receive applicant information from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid until the first half of March. The department had originally told colleges they would receive the data in late January.
  • In a Wednesday statement, the groups called on institutions to provide students with the flexibility needed to make informed enrollment decisions.

Dive Insight:

The FAFSA is usually made public at the beginning of October, with colleges receiving applicants’ information shortly thereafter. In turn, many institutions require their first-year applicants to decide if they will enroll by May 1. 

However, the Education Department pushed back the release of the FAFSA this year to roll out a new, simplified form. It announced a further holdup this week to update key metrics in the FAFSA formula to account for inflation.

The FAFSA delays this cycle have abbreviated colleges’ timeline for making financial aid offers.

The higher education groups raised concerns Wednesday that students and their families will ultimately be the ones put at a disadvantage.

“We all want students and families to have the time they need to consider their financial options before making enrollment decisions,” their statement said.

During the pandemic, many colleges extended their deadlines for enrollment, scholarship and financial aid, the organizations said. They are calling on college leaders to make similar accommodations this application cycle.

Statement signatories include: 

  • American Association of Community Colleges.
  • American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
  • American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
  • American Council on Education.
  • Association of American Universities.
  • Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
  • National Association for College Admission Counseling.
  • National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
  • National College Attainment Network.



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