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Collins, Bipartisan Group Call on Dept. of Education to Fix FAFSA Issues

Letter follows Senator Collins questioning Education Secretary on inexcusable FAFSA delays

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Education Committee, and a bipartisan, bicameral group of 10 Committee leaders in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of the Department of Education Miguel Cardona urging the Department to prioritize the timely rollout of the 2025-2026 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

This letter comes as the Department has faced serious issues in implementing the new simplified FAFSA program, set by the FAFSA Simplification Act that Senator Collins co-sponsored, for 2024-2025. Compared to this time last year in Maine, completed FAFSA applications are down 23 percent. Furthermore, the Department has not published the draft FAFSA for 2025-2026 for comment, which is normally done in February or March.  

“We are joining together as a bipartisan group of authorizing and appropriations committee leadership to express our concerns with the number of errors and delays in the implementation of the new FAFSA. We urge the Department to take steps to ensure these problems do not occur again for the 2025-2026 school year,” wrote the lawmakers. “The rocky implementation of the new FAFSA caused a financial aid traffic jam with weighty implications for students... These barriers pose added challenges to students and families entering higher education this year and make it less likely that current students will continue in their college journey this year and in the years ahead.” 

“We implore you to ensure the next application cycle for the 2025-2026 FAFSA goes smoothly,” continued the lawmakers. “Further, given the leadership transition within the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) we urge you to demonstrate hands-on management and a thorough review of actions within FSA in order to rectify the failures of this FAFSA cycle.” 

Last week, Senator Collins questioned Secretary Cardona on the Department’s inexcusable FAFSA delays. Despite having three years to prepare, the application was only made available for borrowers for 30 minutes on December 30, 2023 and then one additional hour on December 31, 2023. The application was then only accessible for sporadic periods until it became fully live on January 6, 2024. Typically, this form is made available to students on October 1. After the FAFSA went fully live, it has been plagued with issues, including delivering incorrect applicant data to colleges. The Department has still not given institutions directions nor timelines on submitting corrections to student aid packages or how to process paper FAFSAs.

In January, Senator Collins joined a bicameral group in calling on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an investigation into the Department of Education’s failure to implement the new FAFSA program.

In addition to Senator Collins, the letter was signed by Senators Bill Cassidy M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), chair of the HELP Committee, Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), chair of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Subcommittee, and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), ranking member of the Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee. They are joined by U.S. Representatives Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the House Education and the Workforce (E&W) Committee, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), ranking member of the House E&W Committee, Tom Cole (R-OK), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, and Robert Aderholt (R-AL), chair of the House Labor-HHS Subcommittee.  

The complete text of the letter can be read here

Earlier this year, the Senate HELP Committee launched a website hotline for students, guidance counselors, college admissions faculty, financial aid administrators, and others to report issues they have had with the FAFSA process. That hotline can be accessed here.


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