Republican bills would require FAFSA release by Oct. 1

July 9, 2024
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Following a delayed and botched launch of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, congressional Republicans want to require the Education Department to release the form by Oct. 1.

Legislation introduced Monday in the House and Senate would move up the deadline in federal law for the application’s release from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1 of the prior year, codifying a change first made in 2016. Before 2016, the application launched on the first of the new year. However, the release of the 2024–25 FAFSA was pushed back to January because of delays and technical issues in carrying out a mandate from Congress to update the form and the underlying formula that determines aid eligibility.

Education Department officials have said they’re working to release the form by Oct. 1, though college financial aid professionals and lawmakers are skeptical of the agency’s ability to achieve that goal. The American Council on Education and other higher education groups called on Congress in late May to permanently move up the deadline.

Dr. Bill Cassidy, the Louisiana Republican who serves on the Senate education committee, sponsored the Senate version of the bill, while Representative Erin Houchin, an Indiana Republican, introduced the FAFSA Deadline Act in the House.

“The Department of Education has had more than three years to properly implement the new FAFSA,” Cassidy said in a statement. “Yet, the Department is once again behind on making the FAFSA form available to students by October 1. Another class of students may skip college altogether because they don’t know if they can afford it. This bill holds Secretary Cardona accountable to ensure students have their financial offers in time to choose the best, affordable college option for them.”

Houchin said in a statement that the “current flexibility in the FAFSA release date creates unnecessary obstacles and allows the Department of Education to string families along.”

“If the Department is truly on track, as they claim, this bill will formalize its intention and ensure that students receive the support and financial information they need in a timely manner,” Houchin added.

Representative Virginia Foxx, the North Carolina Republican who chairs the House Education and Workforce Committee, called the bill a “simple fix” in a statement. Her committee will consider the legislation Wednesday in a markup hearing. “Students have enough to worry about when it comes to making decisions about their futures; the last thing that they need is to be dealing with incompetent bureaucracy,” Foxx said.



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