U.S. Department of Education Assists Colleges, Students, and Families with Improved FAFSA® Program through Federal Personnel, Funding, and Resources

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) has unveiled a strategy to support colleges and students in completing the FAFSA form more effectively. This strategy includes additional personnel, funding, resources, and technology to streamline the process. The Department’s primary goal is to ensure that students can access the maximum financial aid available. Since the release of the new 2024–25 FAFSA form on Dec. 30, over 3.6 million forms have been successfully submitted.

The FAFSA College Support Strategy consists of the following initiatives:

  • Deploying federal experts to assist colleges in processing financial aid forms
  • Allocating funding for technical assistance and support for under-resourced colleges
  • Providing tools to help colleges prepare for efficient processing of student records and financial aid packages

“Make no mistake: the Better FAFSA is transformational,” says U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “We are determined to get this right. Our hope is that these steps we’re announcing today will greatly benefit colleges and universities.”

The Department’s strategy will particularly focus on assisting lower-resourced schools that may have limited administrative staff and outdated software systems. In addition to providing resources for colleges to expedite the development of student aid packages, the Department aims to ensure that students have sufficient time to make important decisions about their higher education options. Flexibility and ample review time for aid offers are encouraged by institutions, as supported by the American Council on Education and others.

Deploying federal experts to colleges

The Department will deploy federal financial aid experts to assist lower-resourced colleges in processing financial aid packages. These experts will equip colleges with the necessary tools and information, offer direct on-campus support, and provide ongoing consultations and trainings. Historically Black Colleges and Universities, tribal colleges and universities, and other lower-resourced colleges will receive special attention.

The Department will also establish a new concierge service within the office of Federal Student Aid. This service will enable colleges to directly seek personalized support from financial aid experts based on their specific needs. These federal liaisons, many of whom have backgrounds as financial aid professionals, will answer questions and connect colleges to available resources.

Providing funding for technical assistance and on-the-ground support

The Department is allocating $50 million in federal funding to non-profit groups specialized in financial aid support and services. These groups will utilize the funds to recruit additional financial aid professionals, beyond the federal teams deployed by the Department, who will provide technical assistance and support to under-resourced colleges. Participating colleges will receive additional staff support for various tasks such as system readiness assessment, staff training, aid package development, and student aid compliance requirements. The Educational Credit Management Corporation will administer the federal funding, partnering with experienced nonprofits like the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Partnership for Education Advancement.

Releasing data and tools to facilitate accurate and efficient processing of student records and financial aid packages

The Department will release test versions of institutional student financial aid information records (ISIRs) within the next two weeks. Financial aid system developers will work closely with colleges and states to facilitate system preparation based on these test ISIRs. This will enable colleges to efficiently assemble aid packages.

Recently, the Department began providing new data and resources to help schools boost FAFSA completion and enhance the user experience for the 2024–25 FAFSA. Two months ahead of schedule, the Department released data by high school on their students’ FAFSA submissions for 2024–25. Weekly updates will be provided to high schools, enabling them to track progress, target support, and encourage students to submit the FAFSA form. To further improve the user experience, especially for students and their families, the Department introduced a new resource at StudentAid.gov/fafsatips. This resource provides FAFSA applicants and contributors with helpful tips to successfully complete and submit the 2024–25 FAFSA form.

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