The new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be live for students and families by December 31, with additional implementation steps taking place over the winter months, the U.S. Education Department (ED) announced this week.
Of particular concern for financial aid administrators, ED said that colleges will not receive Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) – the information used to assemble aid packages – until the end of January. Colleges will also not receive the final ISIR layouts until December, meaning financial aid offices will have very little time to finalize the new systems with any financial aid management partners.
The compressed deadline adds burden and complexity to an already challenging undertaking. The FAFSA Simplification Act represents the most significant overhaul of the federal aid system in memory and the transition to the new FAFSA and needs analysis calculation will require enormous effort from colleges.
Recognizing the challenges associated with the delay, ED’s Office of Federal Student Aid has established a FAFSA Simplification Information page to help financial aid officers access guidance, tools, recommendations, trainings and updated timelines for resources. These resources have become available on a rolling basis, with copies of the draft FAFSA, provisional templates and other tools to help institutions plan for the transition.
The department also released modeling showing that the new aid calculation will make 610,000 low-income students newly eligible for Pell grants and will make more than 1.5 million students newly eligible for the maximum Pell Grant award. The numbers are also broken down by state in the release.