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The Education Department did not update its guidelines for financial aid eligibility calculation for the new, simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is set to launch by the end of the month. Many fear that the lack of updated guidance could mean less financial aid for students.

The new form will include an increase in the income level exempted from student contribution calculations. Congress directed the Education Department to make a series of specific adjustments on those protected income thresholds for parents, dependents and student parents using updated consumer price index figures from 2020 to 2023, which would be greatly impacted by the recent period of historic inflation. The department failed to make these adjustments in time for this application cycle.

Higher ed advocacy and access organizations pointed out the oversight in a series of public comments in October, but the department did not respond with updated guidelines. Now advocates say many students are likely to receive less aid than they actually qualify for.

It’s the latest fumble in a launch saga ridden with delays, confusion and uncertainty, stoking anxieties among families and financial aid officers alike.