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Right Direction, Wrong Timing? FAFSA Delays from the Department of Education.


Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education
Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education

“Lowering the cost of college, helping students access quality degrees and providing them with the support they need to graduate." – Rep. Bobby Scott, House Democratic Representative in Higher Ed Dive Briefing

 

In recent articles, Felder Official has offered insights on the top priorities of the House Republicans' agenda in reforming Higher Education. We specifically discussed Rep. Elise Stefanik's comments in an op-ed in the New York Post regarding antisemitism, Universities receiving foreign gifts in donor relations, and using taxpayer dollars to fund diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. With the republican perspective highlighted, it is essential also to provide some insights on the priorities of the House Democratic leadership and the discussions regarding overhauling higher education.  

 

As we look more intently at the contemporary issues plaguing higher education, the Department of Education, under democratic leadership, announced a FAFSA delay that would impose a domino effect on current students who depend on Federal Student Aid. Additionally, incoming First-Year students' decisions could affect which college they should attend. Most first-year student decisions heavily conduct a Financial Aid package comparison of all schools to where they have been admitted before selecting the final institution of choice. With this FAFSA delay, their decisions will be delayed, thus causing late deposits and yield rates for The Offices of Undergraduate Admission.


"There is some good news: One big reason for the delay is that the department is fixing a $1.8 billion mistake in the FAFSA that could have especially hurt lower-income students. At best, proceeding without a fix would have confused many lower-income borrowers."

 

Cory Turner with NPR notes, "There is some good news: One big reason for the delay is that the department is fixing a $1.8 billion mistake in the FAFSA that could have especially hurt lower-income students. At best, proceeding without a fix would have confused many lower-income borrowers. At worst, it would have taken money out of their pockets and likely discouraged some from enrolling in college.”

 

"With the democratic leadership looking to prioritize the cost of college, this is a step in the right direction, but the timing is costly."

With the democratic leadership looking to prioritize the cost of college, this is a step in the right direction, but the timing is costly. Over the last decade, invaluable work has been done to simplify the FAFSA process for students and families to improve student access to higher education institutions. With the delayed timeline, we are also looking at the institutional impact of tuition-dependent institutions, which is nearly all colleges to some degree. So, while the efforts to fix decades-long decay in the FAFSA processing and financing, the timing could have been more acutely implemented.

 

Another factor that often goes unnoticed is the impact of FAFSA on graduate and professional students. Although we are not undergraduate students, we depend on these disbursements to finance graduate programs. This is not necessarily the priority, or perhaps even the second, but the third, as we think about the economic and financial return on investments, driving the ratings and validity of graduate programs. 

 

The republican house representatives are combating a social justice perspective on our college campuses, while the democratic house representatives seem focused on the practical and economic returns on higher education outcomes. Both approaches seem timely, given the current landscape. However, policy and legislation regarding reform should prioritize social mobility overall. Then, students would be equipped with social, economic, and financial gains, limiting any possibility of future impunity.


Rebuttals are always welcome,

Jade M. Felder

@felderofficial - X

 

 

Research Article Recommendation:

Bettinger, E. P., Long, B. T., Oreopoulos, P., & Sanbonmatsu, L. (2012). The Role of Application Assistance and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA Experiment*. The Quarterly Journal of Economics127(3), 1205–1242. https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjs017

 

 

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We are in trouble if government decides our students future!

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