When will the new FAFSA form open online?
BAD NEWS: The US Department of Education announced that colleges and universities will receive FAFSA applicant data (called ISIR files) beginning in the first half of March, up to six weeks later than the expected January 31 date. This means that colleges cannot process financial aid packages until late March at the earliest. Students will likely not receive financial aid offer letters until April or later.
GOOD NEWS: The US Department of Education (ED) also announced that it will update the supporting data tables used in the Student Aid Index (SAI) calculation to account for inflation, giving students access to an additional $1.8 billion in need-based federal student aid. The data files sent to colleges and universities in March will be based on the updated tables.
What does this mean for students? The delay in sending data to colleges means that colleges and universities will be unable to finalize financial aid offer letters until late March, or, more likely, April at the earliest. This could very well delay a student’s college decision beyond May 1st. Students who need to make corrections to their FAFSAs will be able to do so once the data files are sent in March. The updated SAI tables will mean more funding for more students, so there is at least some good news amidst the delays.