With the fall semester quickly approaching, the pressure is on for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to tie up loose ends on the 2024-25 award year and shore up the FAFSA form and submission processes for the next cycle. ED announced plans for Jeremy Singer to take over as FAFSA Executive Advisor in the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) as part of broader efforts to ensure a smoother FAFSA process in the future:

  • Cross your fingers for October 1: ED is “working toward the goal” of rolling out the FAFSA on schedule, but the timeline is getting tighter, setting advocates on edge.
  • At the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) conference this week, soon-to-be former COO of the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) Richard Cordray said that the Department has the “aim of enabling an improved application experience.” [The Chronicle of Higher Education]
  • No major changes to the form: The FSA doesn’t plan to make any substantial changes to the form in hopes of minimizing disruptions and streamline the filing process for students and families. As such, the 2025-26 form will not undergo a public comment period. [Community College Daily]
  • In a typical award cycle, ED publishes the draft FAFSA form in March for a 90-day public comment period, which allows stakeholders to provide feedback on the form and any proposed changes to the filing process. This departure from the norm, while not ideal, may make it more likely that ED issues a final FAFSA form by October 1.
  • Public comment alternatives: ED plans to hold “listening sessions” and issue a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit feedback on specific aspects of the form and communications. These sessions and the RFI will lead to the development of a new “Better FAFSA Better Future Roadmap,” which will detail the tools, trainings, and guides being released to support the rollout.

This announcement comes after a 25-organization coalition—including the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), National College Attainment Network (NCAN), and NASFAA—submitted a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to urge the Education Department (ED) to commit to the traditional FAFSA launch date of October 1 and the timely release of critical financial aid resources. 

How do we avoid FAFSA Disaster Part 2? On June 20, NCAN released a set of recommendations for ED on what it will take for the FAFSA to be ready for the 2025-26 award year. Of note, these recommendations could be implemented without legislative or regulatory changes. Read more here.