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Ranking Member Cassidy, Houchin Introduce Legislation Requiring FAFSA to be Available on October 1

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced legislation requiring the Department of Education (DeptEd) to make the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form available to students each year on October 1. U.S. Representative Erin Houchin (R-IN) previously introduced the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.  

The annual FAFSA form has typically been available by October 1, giving students and schools enough time to fill out the application and process financial aid offers ahead of acceptance deadlines. While Secretary Cardona has said that next year’s FAFSA would be ready by October, Republicans and Democrats have expressed concerns to DeptEd that it is behind on its FAFSA responsibilities. The Department has said it will not publish the draft FAFSA for comment, which is normally done by March, making it harder to provide feedback before October.

This comes as the Biden administration failed to get this year’s FAFSA program fully up and running until late January. DeptEd was then delayed in getting the information to colleges until March. In April, DeptEd announced that roughly 30 percent of FAFSA forms had processing or data errors and were not reprocessed until after May 1, the deadline for many students to choose their college. This prevented colleges from creating financial aid offers, forcing students and families to make this life-changing decision with zero information about their eligibility for financial aid.   

“The Department of Education has had more than 3 years to properly implement the new FAFSA. Yet, the Department is once again behind on making the FAFSA form available to students by October 1,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Another class of students may skip college altogether because they don’t know if they can afford it. This bill holds Secretary Cardona accountable to ensure students have their financial offers in time to choose the best, affordable college option for them.” 

"Timely access to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is essential for making higher education accessible and affordable. The current flexibility in the FAFSA release date creates unnecessary obstacles and allows the Department of Education to string families along. The Department’s delays and technical issues during this year's FAFSA 'simplification' launch caused significant confusion and frustration for students and universities. Instead of addressing the problems with FAFSA availability created by its Department, the Biden Administration focused a substantial amount of time on its illegal student loan bailout scheme. The FAFSA Deadline Act will hold the DeptEd to a clear release date of October 1, providing additional time and certainty for families as they prepare for their children’s futures. If the Department is truly on track, as they claim, this bill will formalize its intention and ensure that students receive the support and financial information they need in a timely manner,” said Representative Houchin.

“FAFSA is a vital tool for millions of students, and the Biden administration’s gross mismanagement has put it at risk,” said Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “This bill is a simple fix that will force the Department of Education to do its job. Students have enough to worry about when it comes to making decisions about their futures; the last thing that they need is to be dealing with incompetent bureaucracy.” 


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