More FAFSA Problems?! SMH …

The U.S. Dept. of Education failed to update a key part of its aid calculation index for inflation. As a result families might be considered to have more resources at its disposal than it really does.

01.15.24
More FAFSA Problems?! SMH …

ChicagoAn error in how the U.S. Dept. of Education calculates financial aid might leave some students with lower subsidy amounts for their secondary schooling this fall. 

The department failed to update a key part of its aid calculation index for inflation. As a result families might be considered to have more resources at its disposal than it really does and that could mean less money for students.

"The fact that [the department] did not do these updates artificially lowers someone’s aid eligibility," said Karen McCarthy, vice president of public policy and federal relations at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, according to NBC

Her organization was among the first to flag the inflation issue in October. At first, it appeared the department didn’t initially plan to address the mistake for the 2024-2025 academic year but it is now considering it as new reports have shed light on the issue, McCarthy said. 

The error is further complicated by the rollout of a new FAFSA application that has caused problems for some users. A soft launch of the form went live Dec. 31, but was not widely accessible. Rep. Virginia Foxx, chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce blamed the Biden administration for the error. 

The administration should have been implementing bipartisan FAFSA legislation passed by Congress," said Foxx. "As a result, chaos with the FAFSA rollout is making life miserable for families attempting to determine if they can afford college.”

Currently the department is considering whether to push the update of the students’ aid eligibility calculations into the next academic year or take time to perform the update now. 

"The spring is going to be a little rough no matter what," McCarthy said.

Noah Johnson (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based journalist. Follow him on X: @noahwritestoo.

Edited by NaTyshca Pickett

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