The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Grassley, other lawmakers request investigation into rocky FAFSA rollout

In a letter, lawmakers said the messy rollout could cause some students to not pursue secondary education.
Grassley%2C+other+lawmakers+request+investigation+into+rocky+FAFSA+rollout

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley is joining other federal lawmakers in requesting the Government Accountability Office to investigate the rocky rollout of the updated Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

The request comes after a difficult release in December 2023 for the updated FAFSA, with parents and their students experiencing website crashes and long wait times to complete the application.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., and leaders of the U.S. Senate and House committees handling education joined Grassley in signing the letter.

The lawmakers wrote that the delays from the rollout of the application from the U.S. Department of Education had left students and schools in limbo for the next school year.

“All these challenges and delays may cause some students — particularly low-income students who are most dependent on federal aid — to give up and not pursue postsecondary education,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, made a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, in support of the letter, which she also signed.

“Despite having 3 years to plan, the Biden admin’s botched rollout of the new federal student aid application has created financial uncertainty for Iowa families,” Ernst said in a news release linked to her post Thursday.

Ernst said she was working to make students and their families aware of the resources available to help them prepare to pay for college. She also said she understood the importance of FAFSA in helping students get a college education.

“[I] will continue to push our federal agencies to meet the commitments they are required by law to honor on behalf of students and families,” Ernst said in the news release.

The lawmakers wrote in the letter that they were unclear whether the Department of Education was providing enough information to students and schools on the new form. They noted that the form’s update was meant to make the process simpler, but instead made it more confusing.

As a result, they wrote, outreach efforts from the Department of Education had fallen short.

The lawmakers are seeking information on what steps the Department of Education is taking to address the issues from the new FAFSA implementation. The goal is to “prevent future complications” and to ensure that students can fill out the application on time, according to the news release.

Congress passed the bipartisan “FAFSA Simplification Act” to make financial aid more accessible for students. This legislation required the Department of Education to release the updated FAFSA application by Jan. 1, 2024.

Lawmakers pointed out in the news release that despite three years spent to update the application, it only became available for 30 minutes on Dec. 30, 2023, then for an hour the next day. Subsequent days saw sporadic availability before becoming fully available to all students on Jan. 6.

“This year’s delayed timeline, coupled with [Department of Education’s] setbacks, are creating a domino effect. High school counselors have postponed financial aid information sessions,” the release stated. “They’re now scrambling to connect with students and families to help navigate the new FAFSA process.”

As a result of the complicated release, the University of Iowa extended its deadline to complete the FAFSA application from Feb. 1-15.

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About the Contributor
Alejandro Rojas, News Editor
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Alejandro Rojas is The Daily Iowan's news editor. He previously worked as a news reporter covering Johnson County and was the summer executive editor in 2023. He is a senior, double majoring in journalism and political science.