Washington Watch: More FAFSA processing delays

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The U.S. Education Department (ED) on Tuesday issued an electronic announcement (EA) clarifying the anticipated timeline for processing of Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs), the information colleges use to package financial aid offers.

As the department worked to meet the December 31, 2023 deadline for launching the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), it failed to appropriately adjust for inflation in determining the amount of income shielded in calculating a student’s Student Aid Index (SAI; the measure replacing the Expected Family Contribution).

This week, ED released the inflation-adjusted supporting tables used in the SAI calculation, a key first step to correcting the error. Using the new tables, the department estimates that students will receive an additional $1.8 billion to students in the form of increased eligibility for Pell grants. Additional aid will go to students in the form of increased eligibility for campus-based aid, student loan subsidies and state grant aid.

ISIRs expected in March

Given the latest development, ED has announced that colleges should not expect to receive students’ financial aid information until March, when ISIRs will be processed and sent to colleges in batches. This delay will likely add to the frustration experienced by students and families, as well as financial aid officers. It will likely also increase pressure on states and institutions to push back their own financial aid deadlines.

The American Association of Community Colleges is monitoring the rollout of the new FAFSA and will continue to update its member colleges on new developments.

About the Author

Kathryn Gimborys
Kathryn Gimborys is a government relations manager at the American Association of Community Colleges.