FAFSA delay causes colleges to extend acceptance deadline to May 15 for 2024-25

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a standard application used to apply for financial aid from the federal and state governments, as well as most colleges and universities. Graduate students’ FAFSA submission dates may vary depending on their state of residence, their institution’s unique financial aid requirements, and the programs they are applying for.

Typically, the FAFSA application window for the upcoming academic year starts in October. Colleges and organizations then begin processing these applications in January. This plan aims to allow students enough time to study their financial assistance offers and make educated decisions prior to the enrollment deadlines in May.

FAFSA Deadline Delay

What exactly is the Issue?

On March 22, the United States Department of Education disclosed an error in calculating the Student Aid Index for dependent students who declared assets. This index, which replaced the previously used Expected Family Contribution, was discovered to be erroneously handled in applications submitted to schools prior to March 21, 2024. As a result, these forms must be re-evaluated.

The Department of Education, which regulates the FAFSA, released an updated version of the application on December 30, 2023. This modification attempts to streamline the infamously challenging form. Despite these efforts, the implementation of this year’s FAFSA has encountered various difficulties, resulting college delays and severe hardship for students and their families. For example, a modification was required in February to update calculating tables to reflect inflation rates. This was a critical adjustment required by the bipartisan FAFSA Simplification Act of 2020, which dramatically reforms the application process. Unfortunately, this change was first ignored in the updated form. As a result, universities did not get financial data from students until March, despite expectations that they would have this information by late January.

What is the impact on College Admission Time Frames?

This year’s National College Decision Day, which was scheduled for May 1, has been postponed due to severe issues and delays with modifications to the FAFSA. These issues get from a federal obligation to streamline the application process and expand low-income students’ access to financial assistance. Unfortunately, technical difficulties have prevented many prospective students from determining their overall education expenses.

Delays in FAFSA processing also have an impact on universities’ ability to estimate enrollment numbers and manage resources efficiently. This has increased the burden on admissions and financial aid offices, which are now dealing with additional inquiries and the need to reprocess applications. This increase in workload might result in additional mistakes and disrupt the admissions process.

In response, many colleges including the University of North Carolina, the University of Florida, and the University of Kentucky have extended their deposit enrollment deadlines to May 15. This allows students more time to submit their financial information and acquire financial assistance packages, which are critical for many families in making college affordable.

Colleges are increasingly focusing on maintaining clear and effective communication to ensure applicants are well-informed about changes and how these might impact their application and enrollment decisions. Institutions like Widener University in Pennsylvania has announced that they won’t adhere to the usual May 1 deadline, choosing instead to offer more flexibility this year. Joseph E. Howard, Vice President for Enrollment at Widener, pointed out that financial aid offers will be extended throughout April and possibly beyond. He emphasized that the delays could particularly disadvantage vulnerable students from low-income backgrounds or underserved schools.

Which are the Colleges that have extended their Admission Deadline due to FAFSA?

Delays in processing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) have prompted many colleges across the country to push their decision deadlines back to May 15 or even June 1. This slowdown in processing has widespread effects, impacting how quickly universities can make admissions decisions. This isn’t just about federal aid; it’s also crucial for assessing eligibility for state and college-specific financial support. Colleges understand these hurdles and are extending deadlines to give students more time to make informed choices about their education. After all, understanding the full scope of financial aid offers is crucial in making college as affordable as possible and helping families plan without unnecessary stress.

Some of the top universities that extended their acceptance deadline includes:

  • Pennsylvania State University: Penn State University has decided to move the acceptance deadline for its undergraduate programs to May 15, giving students a little extra time beyond the usual May 1 cutoff. George Zimmerman, the executive director of Undergraduate Admissions at Penn State, highlighted the significance of this extension. “It’s vital that students and their families have all the information they need to make a well-informed decision,” he said. Zimmerman also noted the anticipated delays in FAFSA processing and assured that Penn State is dedicated to supporting future students as they navigate their decision-making process.
  • Purdue University: Purdue University has once again pushed back the admission deposit deadline for incoming freshmen to May 19, responding to delays in FAFSA processing. Cherise Hall, the vice provost for enrollment management, shared, “We’re still waiting on the correct records for more than half of our prospective students. Unfortunately, we don’t anticipate having this information until May 1 or later.” This extension aims to accommodate students and families affected by these delays, ensuring they have the necessary time to make informed decisions about their college future.
  • Auburn University: Auburn is giving its students a bit more breathing room by extending the deposit deadline to May 15, two weeks later than the original May 1 deadline. This extension also applies to the enrollment and scholarship response deadlines. President Christopher B. Roberts highlighted the university’s dedication to its students, stating, “At Auburn, we are deeply committed to making education accessible and providing opportunities for prospective students. By giving families additional time, we aim to support them as they make one of the most significant decisions in their student’s life.”
  • California State University: The California State University (CSU) system has graciously extended the deadline for new first-time, first-year students to declare their intent to register for the fall 2024 semester. This revised deadline is now set for no earlier than May 15, and is uniform across all 23 campuses in the CSU system. April Grommo, the assistant vice chancellor of CSU Strategic Enrollment Management, shed light on the rationale behind this change, noting, “This extension offers prospective students and their families extra time to review their financial aid packages and decide on the best CSU campus for them. It’s all about helping them make well-informed choices about their college journey.”
  • University of California: The University of California has extended the deadline for first-year undergraduates to submit their Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) to May 15 for all nine campuses. However, this extension does not apply to out-of-state and international first-year students at UC Berkeley, who will need more time due to their unique circumstances. Han Mi Yoon-Wu, the associate vice provost for Undergraduate Admissions at the UC Office of the President, highlighted the university’s dedication, saying, “As a public university, we’re committed to offering a world-class education to a diverse and talented group of students from various backgrounds and experiences.”

Other universities that have extended their deadlines due to the FAFSA:

How is the FAFSA delay impacting Parents and Students?

Receiving financial assistance offers late could cause an obstruction in a student’s academic preparations. Typically, these offers play an important role for students when choosing which institution to attend. However, delays are not just frustrating; they can cause an array of other issues. Students are left rushing at the last minute to arrange accommodation, class enrollment, and even relocation preparations.

Families are not exempt from the effects of ripples. Parents who rely on financial help to pay for their child’s education find themselves in a difficult situation. Stress builds in as financial planning turns into a form of waiting. This rush encourages students to make fast selections without having the opportunity to carefully analyze their alternatives across several universities, which can lead to conclusions that are not completely informed and may not serve them well in the long term.

Delays in processing financial assistance may also force students to postpone admission or seek out other institutions that can make quicker financial decisions. This change may interfere with a college’s estimated number of students and is especially difficult for those from low-income or underprivileged regions, who rely heavily on this funding.

The impact of FAFSA delays is far-reaching, impacting everything from the date of filing the FAFSA to how universities process these applications and distribute financial aid packages. According to a survey conducted by U.S. News, 42% of parents stated their child had to delay attending college by at least a semester due to these concerns. This sequence of delays shows how important it is to streamline the process, allowing students to transfer to college smoothly without these additional obstacles.


The current delays in FAFSA processing indicate that issues are more than just administrative; they produce actual inconveniences for students, harming their educational goals and financial management. In response, several colleges are extending their deadlines, recognizing the difficulties that students experience in receiving financial help on time. These adjustments are especially essential to ensure that all prospective students, particularly those from low-income or underprivileged regions, may make well-informed educational decisions without being pressured by impending deadlines.

Looking ahead, it is critical for government agencies, educational institutions, and families to collaborate more effectively to improve the FAFSA process. By working together, we can minimize delays, relieve stress on families, and ensure that students receive the financial support they require as they begin their college careers. Finally, we want to retain a fair and robust educational system while adjusting to the needs of today’s financial assistance market, ensuring that every student has an equal opportunity to succeed.

About Saisha

After completing her undergraduate, Saisha wanted to pursue a career in data analytics. She helps the team with data analysis ad research on the data. An avid chess player and news junkie, she consumes news like no one else on current affairs.

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