Senator Marshall Joins Letter Demanding Answers On FAFSA’s Application Glitches for Students

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. joined 28 Senate and House members in a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) Comptroller General, Gene Dodaro, demanding answers on implemented changes that were intended to make the FAFSA application process easier, but has caused chaos and a great deal of stress for millions of students nationwide. 

These implemented changes have caused significant problems for applicants due to glitches, malfunctions, and resets that have resulted in applicants losing their information. Due to the mishaps, only 1 million of 17 million potential applicants have been able to fill out the FAFSA in full as of Jan. 8. The severe breakdowns in the application process must be addressed immediately so students can see what their financial aid packages will look like when deciding which college will be the right fit and most affordable for them.

Senator Marshall was joined by Senators Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Thom Tillis, Joni Ernst, John Barrasso, Marco Rubio, James Lankford, Mike Rounds, Steve Daines, Mike Braun, JD Vance, Shelley Moore Capito, Chuck Grassley, Jerry Moran Cindy Hyde-Smith, Deb Fischer, and Representatives Virginia Foxx, G.T. Thompson, Tim Walberg, Elise Stefanik, Rick Allen, Burgess Owens, Lisa McClain, Michelle Steel, Eric Houchin, Brandon Williams, and Lloyd Smucker.

Highlights from the letter include:

“Each year, almost 18 million students submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for federal grants, work-study, and loans. These students often depend on the FAFSA to determine if they can afford college and decide how they are going to pay for it. Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act in 2020 to streamline the application and calculations for federal student aid, reducing the number of questions from more than 100 to as few as 18 for many applicants,” the Members wrote. 

“However, repeated delays from the Department of Education (Education) in rolling out the new FAFSA have left students and schools in limbo for the upcoming school year. Although students have traditionally been able to start submitting a FAFSA each year on October 1st, Education was three months late launching the new application and it was not consistently available on Education’s website until early January (after a “soft launch” on December 30th),” the Members continued.

“These delays have left many students uncertain about their educational future. For example, high school counselors have had to postpone financial aid information sessions and must now rush to connect with students and help them navigate through the new FAFSA process,” the Members said. 

“Beyond the initial delays, it is also unclear whether Education is providing students and schools with sufficient information and guidance on the new FAFSA form and process. The goal of FAFSA simplification was in part to make the whole process easier for students and their families,” the Members wrote.

“Given these concerns, we request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examine the following issues: 

  1. To what extent, if at all, did students and schools face challenges applying for and administering federal student aid during the initial award cycle for the new FAFSA? 
  2. What steps has Education taken to identify and address these challenges, if any, in preparation for next year’s award cycle? 
  3. To what extent has Education provided students with sufficient information on how to complete the new FAFSA and navigate the application process? 
  4. To what extent has Education provided schools with sufficient guidance and communications for incorporating the FAFSA changes into their own financial aid award processes?,” the Members concluded. 

You may click HERE to read Senator Marshall’s full letter to the GAO.