‘We’re in a holding pattern’: Dept. of Education delays release date of student FAFSA data to colleges, universities

San Antonio universities, like UTSA and Alamo Colleges, said students should expect to receive financial aid packages later than normal

SAN ANTONIO – A new version of the financial aid application used by college students nationwide is facing new delays.

The Department of Education announced this week that more than 3.1 million people have submitted Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, forms through the 2024-2025 redesigned application. The department also said colleges and universities would not start receiving student FAFSA data until mid-March.

“We’re going to be in a bit of a holding pattern,” UTSA assistant vice provost and executive director of financial aid and scholarships Erika Cox said. “It is further delaying the timeline of when schools are able to receive that information and then turn around and offer for students and families.”

The redesigned FAFSA application was mandated by Congress in 2020. The goal was to streamline the financial aid form and make college more accessible to families across America, including San Antonio.

Ordinarily, students and families can start filling out the form in the fall. But this year, the new application didn’t soft launch until just about a month ago.

“There’s always been a complaint that it was too difficult for families to complete,” Alamo Colleges district director of student financial aid Harold Whitis said. “There’s [sic] a whole list of glitches that have happened.”

The new FAFSA form, a streamlined application, has come with a rocky rollout. Advisers from UTSA, Alamo Colleges District and the University of the Incarnate Word told KSAT 12 that there have been multiple glitches through its soft launch, including identification problems and long waiting rooms.

“It’s not simply changing a table, you know, it’s a complete rewrite and a complete redesign of the system,” UIW director of financial assistance Cristen Alicea said. “A lot of us wish it hadn’t been opened, but they had no choice.”

Two weeks into January, Cox said the department opened the new FAFSA 24/7. She said the department hired more staff to field questions and assist families. But the biggest concern remains when students will start to receive their financial aid packages from colleges.

“They didn’t give an exact date,” Cox said. “I’m hopeful for April, for students and families. But a lot of that is going to be dependent on, ‘What does mid-March mean?’”

The Department of Education said in part in a statement on Tuesday that it is accounting for inflation in each application through its Student Aid Index. Cox said even with delays and frustrations, the new FAFSA should give more students more financial aid.

March 15 is the priority deadline in Texas to fill out the FAFSA. Cox said applicants can use the Department of Education’s financial aid estimator if they want to estimate how much aid they might receive.

About the Authors

Avery Everett is a news reporter and multimedia journalist at KSAT 12 News. Avery is a Philadelphia native. If she’s not at the station, she’s either on a hiking or biking trail. A lover of charcuterie boards and chocolate chip cookies, Avery’s also looking forward to eating her way through San Antonio, one taco shop at a time!

Alexis Montalbo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.

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