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UC, CSU extend admissions deadline following FAFSA delays

Both the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) systems have extended their deadline for students to accept admissions for the Fall 2024 school year due to delays with the new federal financial aid form.

In past years, both UC and CSU systems required students to accept or deny admission offers by May 1. Due to changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application process, both education systems have extended this deadline.

For all nine UCs, first-year students will be required to make their decisions by May 15 and all 23 CSU campuses have a deadline no earlier than May 15. College admission decisions traditionally come out from late February to March.

Both college systems have cited FAFSA delays as the reason for the deadline extension, as a new version of the FAFSA form made its debut this year after being announced last year.

Advertised as a faster, more user-friendly way for students to fill out their financial information, the United States Department of Education’s roll-out of the new form has seen numerous technical difficulties and glitches.

“We anticipated that there may be challenges as students adapt to the new FAFSA process, but there have also been additional unanticipated delays, which has been illustrated in recent national headlines,” Nicholas Novello, CSULB director of financial aid, said.

The new form’s launch date was marketed for December 2023 instead of Oct. 1 as in previous years. The form that was released in December was a soft launch, meaning users could only access the form at certain times when the form was not under construction.

The form was not made available 24 hours a day, seven days a week until Jan. 8.

With glitches plaguing the new form, FAFSA has had the lowest number of applicants in recent years, especially among high school seniors. According to the National College Attainment network, submissions for the class of 2024 are down 57% compared to last year. The national FAFSA submission rate stands at just 16% through Jan. 26.

“The most common cases reported to us at CSULB involve students and their parents creating an account for the FAFSA,” Novello said. “Students whose parents do not have a social security number are experiencing roadblocks in completing the online process.”

Students of parents with no social security numbers are bearing the brunt of the struggle with the new FAFSA form, as the website now requires that a social security number be used. In previous years, parents without social security numbers could print out a form, sign it and send it in. However, this is no longer an option on the website.

The launch of the new FAFSA form has created delays in the entire financial aid system.
The launch of the new FAFSA form has created delays in the entire financial aid system. Photo credit: Linsey Towles

According to Novello, the U.S. Department of Education has shared that they are “committed to addressing this issue,” though a fix has yet to be implemented.

Additionally, the Department of Education announced that colleges will not receive student financial information until March, two months later than originally planned. Some students may not receive their federal aid package offers from respective schools until April.

“As FAFSA data is usually released beginning of October, this means an extremely tight timeline this year to provide completed aid packages to newly-admitted and continuing students,” Novello said. He added that the Financial Aid office plans to keep the community updated as new developments unfold.

For many, federal aid upon admission is a key factor in deciding where to go to school. With FAFSA delays pushing the date colleges are able to offer financial aid packages, UCs and CSUs have responded by pushing back their admission deadlines.

Novello said the Financial Aid office has created a FAFSA Simplification Page where students can receive updated information as it is released by the U.S. Department of Education. The priority deadline to submit this year’s FAFSA is slated on April 2.

This article was edited on Feb. 20, 2024 for accuracy. 

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