A coalition of higher ed professional associations and advocacy organizations issued a letter Wednesday urging colleges to extend their typical May 1 commitment deadline for accepted students in light of a nearly two-month delay in the delivery of FAFSA information to colleges.
The nine signatory organizations—which include the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, the American Council on Education and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, among others—asked colleges to grant students more time between when they receive financial aid offers and when they’re required to commit to an institution.
“Due to the continued delays in the availability of FAFSA applicant data announced by the U.S. Department of Education, we encourage colleges and universities to provide flexibility to students and families as they consider their offers of admission and financial aid,” the statement read. “During the pandemic, many institutions extended their enrollment, scholarship, and financial aid deadlines beyond the traditional May 1 date, and we urge institutions to make similar accommodations this year.”
The coalition brings together some of the largest and most influential higher education organizations in the country. On Tuesday, ahead of the letter’s release, National Association for College Admission Counseling president and signatory Angel Pérez told Inside Higher Ed that it had come together quickly after the FAFSA delay was announced.
“I think everyone immediately knew that this is the moment for a united front,” he said.
The delay, announced Tuesday, will almost certainly push colleges’ financial aid offers until at least April, substantially shrinking students’ decision-making window and especially hurting low-income and first-generation students for whom an accurate financial aid package is crucial data informing their ultimate college choice.
“I can’t imagine that colleges would continue on the same timeline they have in the past,” Perez said. “It’s just not feasible given all of the work that needs to happen now.”