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Survey Reveals Impact of Problems with New FAFSA System


​To better understand the challenges faced by institutions with the new FAFSA system, ACE, along with EDUCAUSE and the National Association of College and University Business Officers, conducted a survey targeting various stakeholders at member colleges and universities.

The groups, along with a number of other higher education associations, sent the results to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona March 28 as part of the higher education community’s continuing advocacy around the ongoing FAFSA problems and their impact on students and institutions.

The survey received 358 responses, with financial aid officers being the majority of responders. The findings revealed two key concerns:

SAIG mailbox updates: The Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG) is a secure system that colleges, universities, and other authorized organizations use to electronically share financial aid information with the Department of Education. Institutions must update their mailbox to receive information from the new FAFSA. The survey found that while 80 percent of respondents had updated their mailboxes, many institutions still faced challenges due to technological limitations, lack of guidance, and staffing issues. Some institutions expressed concerns about how updating their SAIG mailboxes could impact their ability to process aid for the current academic year.

Timely processing of ISIRs: A significant portion of respondents (67 percent) expressed doubts about the ability of their institutions to process Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) within a few weeks. Challenges included issues with ISIR delivery and software compatibility, as well as the sheer volume of ISIRs expected.

In response to these challenges, 47 percent of respondents indicated their institutions would be adjusting May 1 deadline dates, with 13 percent already having done so. Secretary Cardona sent a letter to state governors on Monday, urging them to push back state financial aid application deadlines. If your institution is adjusting its deadline date, please email ACE’s Nick Anderson at nanderson@acenet.edu so you can be included in ACE’s database of extensions.

Unfortunately, the problems continue to pile up. The Department of Education said on March 22 that calculation errors have rendered hundreds of thousands of the forms that have been submitted unusable. Then on March 25, officials announced that students will not be able to make corrections or adjustments to their FAFSA forms until the first half of April. Most recently, some institutions reportedly are now seeing technical errors in tax information automatically populated in the form.

In the letter accompanying the survey, the associations urge the department to take immediate steps to address all of these concerns, and to be “as transparent as possible with the higher education community” while they do so.



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