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4 errors that may impact students filing the 2024-25 FAFSA®

Published May 9, 2024| minute read
Dhara Singh

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    Many aspiring and current college students have found themselves intertwined in the challenging 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) rollout. This revamped version of the FAFSA® was launched almost three months later than its usual October release date, and there have been several glitches since.

    These identified issues included calculation errors, which may have impacted students’ Student Aid Index (SAI) numbers. The SAI is a measurement the federal government, states, and many individual colleges rely on to determine how much aid students may be eligible to receive, if any. Additional errors included mixed-citizenship families being unable to submit the application and a calculation error that failed to include the impact of inflation in determining Pell Grant eligibility (a mandate by Congress).

    The U.S. Department of Education – which is charged with the FAFSA® – has provided fixes to some of these issues. However, some issues remain outstanding, and the range of the problems created delays in the processing of FAFSA® forms. The delays have also had a rippling impact on the college federal financial aid process, creating a delay in the timing that students generally receive their financial aid award letters for the 2024-25 academic year, along with other impacts.

    If you’re a student, parent, or guardian filing the FAFSA® for the 2024-25 academic year, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with some of the issues impacting this year’s FAFSA® and steps you may want to take if you believe you’ve been affected.

    Four calculation errors that happened during the 2024-25 FAFSA® rollout

    Here are four errors that The Department of Education has announced that you may want to be aware of if you’ve filed your FAFSA® or are in the process of filing your FAFSA® for the 2024-25 academic year.

    1. Inaccurate tax information pulled from the IRS

    The Department of Education reported that some applicants who filled out the FAFSA® had incorrect data pulled from the IRS.

    FAFSA® fields for a number of students were filled in incorrectly from a mix of updated and original tax returns, leading to errors.

    There were also discrepancies in manually entered fields such as education tax credit data and income taxes paid. The issue affected fewer than 20% of applicants, according to the Department of Education, which shared with students that they’ll reprocess affected FAFSA® forms to help ensure students receive the financial aid for which they’re eligible.

    2. Missing data fields contributed to some students receiving lower SAIs

    In some instances, the Department of Education sent colleges inaccurate financial need information known as Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs).

    Some FAFSA® forms, when processed, didn’t include all the necessary fields, such as the value of a student’s investments and totals in cash and in savings and checking accounts, needed to calculate their SAI. As a result, many students saw a lower SAI value, which impacts how much aid they may receive from colleges and universities.

    This error only impacted applications sent to schools before March 21, 2024, and impacted dependent students with assets. The Department of Education says it’ll notify schools if they received ISIRs that may require a correction.

    3. SAI not calculated due to missing family size

    Another issue impacting the 2024-25 FAFSA® rollout is that if a student has missing family size information, the form could still be completed, but the student’s SAI wasn’t calculated. The Department of Education recommends that the parent should start a correction and go back into the form to manually input their family size information as a workaround.

    4. Graduate students face incorrect Pell Grant eligibility information

    An error impacting graduate students is that some are being told they’re eligible for Pell Grants based on their SAI calculation. This is an error, as Pell Grants are only available to undergraduate students.

    The Department of Education recommends graduate students disregard this message.

    What should you do if you think an error has impacted your FAFSA®?

    If you submitted your FAFSA® and you feel either you’ve made an error or an issue has impacted you, you have a couple of actions you can take, according to Federal Student Aid.

    • You can make changes to your existing form or re-submit one entirely.
    • The Department of Education is currently in the process of resolving several errors. To stay current on their identified errors and fixes, you can visit the 2024-25 FAFSA® Issues Alerts page.
    • You can contact one of the Federal Student Aid Contact Centers. They have a live chat, email, and phone contact option.
    • You can reach out to the financial aid offices of colleges and universities you’ve applied to or are already enrolled in, informing them that you either believe you’ve made an error or think an error has impacted you and need help resolving the issue.

    Final thoughts

    You may want to note that the FAFSA® deadline for the 2024-25 application is June 30, 2025.

    If the schools you’ve applied to have delayed relaying to students how much financial aid they can provide, even if you’ve completed the FAFSA®, you may also consider applying for other forms of financial aid, such as scholarships from nonprofits and other organizations to help pay for college.