The Biden administration announced Monday it's adding funding and resources to help speed up FAFSA applications for college students, hoping to counter months of delays that have frustrated prospective students and colleges alike.
The Department of Education said Monday it plans to send more funding and resources to colleges so they can process more FAFSA forms.
It wants to focus on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, tribal colleges and schools that may not have enough resources to process applications. More staff or new software could help these institutions process FAFSA applications more quickly, and help more students.
This change comes after the Department of Education overhauled the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form in 2023, which pushed its availability back from the usual Oct. 1 start date to nearly the end of the year.
The in late January, the Department of Education announced applications through FAFSA wouldn't reach colleges until the middle of March.
That time of year is typically when prospective students hear back from colleges about acceptance and start making plans for attendance. If colleges see a delay in receiving FAFSA information, acceptance and students' opportunities to plan for college may also be delayed.
"These continued delays, communicated at the last minute, threaten to harm the very students and families that federal student aid is intended to help," said Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
In a press release highlighting the new changes, the department said the "goal is to not only deploy resources for colleges to accelerate the development of student aid packages, but also to make sure students have adequate time to make important decisions about their higher education options."
The Department of Education plans to send $50 million to nonprofits that deliver specialized financial aid support for schools that need it. It will also start bringing colleges and states on board with new software that's meant to speed up the delivery of aid packages to students.
On Monday the department also opened a new website to guide FAFSA applicants through the process.
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