DENVER — Universities won't receive student FAFSA information until March or early April due to a calculation error, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
The department said Tuesday that fixing the mistake will free up an additional $1.8 billion in student aid, but that information won't be available for several months. The funding will apply to students applying for universities during the 2024-25 academic year.
"I've been struggling a lot with making an account for my mom," said Kimberly Salazar, a senior at North High School. "She has to have one in order to complete my application."
Salazar applied for financial aid immediately, but her application is still incomplete due to the revamped system's struggles. She said it compounds her income problems since many of her scholarship opportunities require her to complete a FAFSA application.
Salazar said Regis University is her first choice, but tuition is more than $40,000 a year.
"I would have to pay out of pocket for everything," said Salazar.
A new, simplified FAFSA form mandated by Congress was rolled out in 2023 but it was rife with issues. Many students were unable to access applications until the first week of 2024. In its press release, the department confirmed that it failed to take into account inflation when calculating student aid availability.
"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 the release.
The release also said the department received over 3.1 million FAFSA forms since the revamped form went live.
Natasha Garfield, the director of scholarships at the Denver Scholarship Foundation, said the late application release could force universities to delay their commitment deadlines.
"The national organizations are also really asking the colleges to think about their May 1 deadline for students to decide where they're going to enroll and to make a commitment to that college," said Garfield.