Dealing with FAFSA Delays: Suggestions for Campus Officials

February 5, 2024
  • Financial Aid
  • Financial Aid and FAFSA
  • Student Success
Individual holding fafsa papers in front of a laptop.

By Kenneth McGheeDirector of the DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program


The 2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is experiencing processing delays, prompting dedicated officials to work diligently behind the scenes. Their efforts aim to enhance customer service and provide crucial support to students and their families during this crucial time. As the annual College Decision Day approaches, where financial aid award letters play a pivotal role in a student's final college enrollment plan, the impending arrival of the initial college bill adds to the urgency.

In light of these challenges, campus officials must adopt a proactive approach to assessing how these dynamics may impact college operations. The question arises: How can schools prepare to manage these factors and effectively serve incoming students and their families? To navigate these uncertainties, administrators can focus on evaluating data, policies, and procedures. An ideal starting point is a thorough examination of institutional information from the past two to five years.

Here are some key areas to review related to admissions and financial aid data:

  •     Number of freshman and transfer admissions applications
  •     Percentage of students admitted for the fall term
  •     Number of admitted students who applied for financial aid
  •     Percentage of financial aid applicants who completed the process
  •     Months in which financial aid applicants completed the process
  •     Annual percentage of new student enrollment for the last 2-5 years
In addition, it is essential to assess billing office and finance administration policies, including:

  •     Current payment plan beginning and end dates
  •     College policies regarding registration with a past-due balance
  •     Frequency of policy changes to prior term balances and future registration
  •     Overall scholarships available and institutional cash flow for day-to-day operations
  •     State laws related to bad debt for past-due accounts
  •     Collection account referral process and timing based on state law

As the college enrollment season unfolds, with students and parents visiting campuses and making critical decisions, the upcoming 2024-2025 academic year brings additional complexity. The uncertainty around when Federal Student Aid (FSA) funds may be awarded to students and how this will impact institutional scholarship offers and college affordability questions introduces new challenges. Regular meetings to address the questions above can contribute significantly to preparedness for the upcoming school year.

Interested in learning more about the policy news impacting higher education? Visit AACRAO's Advocacy Center to see the work we're doing, like the recent joint statement released by AACRAO and other higher education leaders urging higher education institutions to extend financial aid and enrollment commitment deadlines.


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