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FAFSA glitch could further delay college financial aid offers

Washington A calculation error impacting several hundred thousand financial aid forms has factored in to the already stressful process for students picking what college to attend.

The Department of Education identified the error in March, advising it could further delay aid awards for students. And without knowing how much tuition is covered, deciding on where to go to college in 2025 is a challenge, financial aid experts warn.

The unforced error adds further complications to the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) process this year, which was marked with delays and glitches after a long-awaited, updated version of the financial aide form was released.

About 30% of submitted FAFSAs — or roughly 2.1 million forms — were impacted by data or processing errors, the Education Department said on April 9.

Just The Facts 

  • Typically, colleges send financial aid award letters to students in March and request a decision by May 1 on whether they plan to enroll the following fall. Many colleges – but not all – have already delayed this timeline due to the problems with the FAFSA.
  • The Department of Education’s new mistake resulted in incorrect financial need information, known as Institutional Student Information Records, or ISIRs, being sent from the government to colleges. The error impacts ISIRs sent to schools prior to March 21, and the issue has been resolved for information sent on and after that date, the Department of Education shared.
  • The vast majority of the 1.5 million ISIRs delivered to colleges so far were not affected. The Department of Education has provided workaround instructions for colleges so that they can still process the impacted ISIRs to generate tentative aid packages for students.
  • On April 1, the Education Department began posting detailed daily FAFSA updates, which you can access here. The department also has a new “FAFSA pro tips'' section of its website designed to help students and families. 

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