Understanding the impact of the latest FAFSA news

People who don’t work in financial aid offices may have a hard time understanding exactly how challenging it is to plan for a delayed, redesigned FAFSA.

Here’s a hypothetical analogy for higher ed enrollment management and communications professionals. Consider what would happen in this nightmare college admissions scenario:

  • What if this year’s main college application launch date was going to be delayed, potentially, from August 1 to November 1? 
  • In addition to the delayed launch date, what if this year’s main college application form was being overhauled and redesigned behind the scenes, for a better student experience?  

What a headache for your team, of unimaginable proportions—right? The permutations abound. Here’s just a fraction of the planning and work that could be involved:

  • Would you need to hire more overflow readers and at a different time of year?
  • How would you find enough overflow readers to manage the sheer volume of apps that need to be read in such a compressed timeline?
  • Would you ask your communications team to audit all Slate forms and web content for areas that may need adjustments due to the delayed launch?
  • Would you need to change the timing or content of your email, social, or print campaigns? How does the delayed launch date change your schedule and approach for recruitment travel or campus events? 
  • How would this situation change your outreach to school counselors and CBO advisors, families, and other audiences this year?
  • Would you need to update your process for reading or committee due to the new form?
  • What changes would be needed in financial aid processes or communications due to this situation?
  • What changes could be needed for your admit pack?
  • Who is going to do all of this extra work? How will you figure out what needs to be done?

Of course (and happily!), this is not the scenario with this year’s main college application. 

It is, however, the situation happening with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This year’s FAFSA is being simplified and redesigned for students’ benefit, and the new form may not be released until January 1, 2024—instead of October 1, 2023. 

If you start thinking through all the possible ramifications of the FAFSA redesign and delayed launch, it can make your head spin. 
We can help. Caerus Communications partners with colleges and universities on financial aid and admissions communications projects, including FAFSA update work. Tara has nearly a decade of specialized experience in financial aid communications—including five years on staff at Swarthmore College—and a certification from the Institute for Financial Aid at the College Board in Princeton. If you want to learn more about our aid and affordability communications projects, please contact Tara.