Light at the End of the Tunnel for the FAFSA Rollout

May 14, 2024
  • Financial Aid and FAFSA
Individual holding financial aid documents.

By Michael BilfingerAssistant Director, Public Policy, AACRAO

The 2024-2025 college admissions season has been upended by the rollout of the new Better FAFSA Form and completion rates of the form are down roughly 20% compared with last academic year, however there is light at the end of the tunnel. The U.S. Department of Education (the Department) recently announced that it has completed reprocessing FAFSA forms impacted by errors and has transmitted Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) from over 8.3 million forms to institutions and states. With this, the Department no longer has a backlog to process and is now up-to-date with FAFSA forms. ISIRs are being sent to institutions within one to three days of submission. 

How did we get here?

Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act back in December 2020. This legislation instructed the Department to significantly overhaul the FAFSA form, need analysis, as well as dozens of policies and procedures for schools that participate in federal student aid programs. Below is a summary timeline of events since then. A more detailed timeline can be found here

  • November 2023:
    • The Department announced the new FAFSA form will be available by December 31, 2023.
  • December 2023:
    • The Department fails to update guidelines for calculating financial aid eligibility
    • First signs of technical issues with Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG) software and EDconnect platform
    • The new FAFSA form opens, but families experience trouble when trying to complete it
  • January 2024:
    • Parents without Social Security numbers can’t fill out the form
    • The Department announces it will begin transmitting ISIRs to institutions “in the first half of March” after missing its own January deadline
  • February 2024:
    • The Department adds five new technical problems to its Issue Alerts page and announces FAFSA College Support Strategy to assist students and institutions with the form
    • The Department updates the Student Aid Index (SAI) and releases a new version of the Edconnect platform, however, Congress effectively reverses this change with a spending bill provision
  • March 2024:
    • Students without Social Security numbers can begin submitting the FAFSA
    • The Department says it will begin sending batches of ISIRs to institutions, however, the SAI for dependent students was being incorrectly calculated, and errors in tax data impact 20 percent of applications
  • April 2024:
    • The Department announced it will reprocess upwards of 20 percent of all forms containing tax errors and allow students to make corrections to their FAFSA forms
  • May 2024:
    • Education Secretary Miguel Cardona apologizes to students for the FAFSA rollout and announces that issues are mostly resolved.

Are you interested in public policy and the work that shapes higher education on the national level? We encourage you to submit your application to become an advocate during AACRAO's Annual Hill Day Event. Applications close on May 24, 2024.


AACRAO's bi-weekly professional development e-newsletter is open to members and non-members alike.