Skip to main content

Some colleges are postponing their enrollment deadlines: what students should know

Published February 26, 2024| minute read

    A lot of students and their families have been asking questions about the implications of the delayed release of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) for the 2024-25 school year. Instead of being released in October, as the application usually is, this year’s form was released late last December. That delay has had a rolling impact on students and their families, the latest impact being that some colleges have decided to extend their enrollment deadlines for regular decision applicants to the class of 2028.

    While regular decision applicants to colleges typically must declare their attendance to a school and accept that school’s financial aid offer by May 1 — a day often referred to as “college decision day” — some schools are deciding to push that date back this year by anywhere from several weeks to a month in most cases.

    “We’re grateful to all the students who are thinking about joining us, and we don’t want any of them to feel that the problems with the FAFSA® will keep them from doing so,” Greg Roberts, The University of Virginia’s Dean of Admission, said via an announcement on the school’s website, Opens overlay. “We hope this change in our reply deadline will relieve at least some of the anxiety students and their loved ones may be feeling.” The University of Virginia is one of many schools that have extended or are considering extending their enrollment deadline.

    Keep reading for more information on what led to this delay, what this may mean for college applicants this year, and steps some students may want to take given these circumstances.

    What led to some colleges postponing their enrollment deadlines?

    As covered above, the FAFSA® is typically released on October 1 each year, but the form for the 2024-25 academic year was postponed until it was soft launched on December 30, 2023.

    This delay stems from the FAFSA® Simplification Act passed by Congress, which led the U.S. Department of Education to overhaul the FAFSA® process in many ways, including shortening the application, making it about 36 questions for most filers. There were other changes to the form, including the calculations used to help determine financial aid because of the overhaul, too, and these changes led to the 2024-25 application’s release being delayed.

    Because the FAFSA® had a delayed release, students and their families were delayed in being able to file the FAFSA®. That led to a delay in the U.S. Department of Education releasing FAFSA® information to colleges because students’ and families’ FAFSA® information was not yet available.

    And because of that delay, a growing list of colleges across the country have announced that they’re pushing back their enrollment deadlines beyond “college decision day,” which has historically been May 1 of each year. This has also traditionally been the deadline for students to make a deposit to the school they want to attend to hold their spot.

    Schools pushing back their enrollment deadline say they’re waiting for the U.S. Department of Education to send them students’ FAFSA® information and that they want to provide students with more time to assess financial aid offers to help them make an informed decision regarding where they want to attend college. Some students may not receive financial aid award letters until mid-April this year.

    Financial aid award letters supplied by schools to accepted students can be critical to many students who use them to help decide which of the colleges they’ve been accepted to they can best afford.

    What colleges are postponing their enrollment deadlines?

    There’s a growing list of colleges postponing their enrollment deadlines. If you feel impacted by FAFSA® delays, contact the schools you’re considering and see if they’ve extended their enrollment deadline.

    A sampling of the schools that have postponed their deadline include:

    • The University of Virginia
    • The University of Massachusetts, Boston
    • The Ohio State University
    • University of California, Berkeley
    • Emerson College
    • Kent State University
    • Washington & Jefferson College
    • University of Wisconsin, Madison
    • Vermont State University
    • Miami University, Oxford, Ohio

    What are the new college enrollment deadlines?

    Historically, college decision day for regular decision-accepted college applicants has been May 1 every year.

    This year, some schools are pushing back their decision deadline, in most cases either to May 15 or June 1. These dates will vary by school, so be sure to check with the schools you applied to so you can find out if they’re pushing back their deadline and, if so, to when.

    It’s important to note that not all schools are extending their enrollment deadline.

    What steps should students and their families take if they’re impacted by financial aid offer letter delays?

    There are a few steps to consider taking if you feel impacted by these delays. Here are a few:

    1. Still file the FAFSA® to access federal financial aid: While the 2024-25 FAFSA® rollout was delayed, the application doesn’t close until June 30, 2025. To potentially access federal financial aid (like federal grants and student loans) and other types of aid, you still must file the FAFSA®, so don’t let delays and changes hold you back.
    2. Take note of all of the deadlines that are relevant to you: There are a lot of deadlines to keep track of during the college admissions process. Take note of all the deadlines relevant to you — be that college decision deadlines, federal financial aid deadlines, state financial aid deadlines, and scholarship deadlines — so you can stay on track.
    3. Reach out to the colleges you’re considering attending if you have any questions: Because there may be changes to when students may receive financial aid packages and delayed college enrollment deadlines, reach out to any colleges you’re considering attending to ask any questions you may have. Some colleges, who may not officially extend their enrollment deadline are communicating to students that if they need an extension to the enrollment deadline, to ask for one. Extensions may be granted on a case-by-case basis, so it could be worth inquiring with the schools you’re considering attending.
    4. Try to stay calm: The U.S. Department of Education has assured students that these delays are just that and that students should still expect to receive financial aid award letters from the schools they noted on their FAFSA® form.

    Final thoughts

    The college application (and enrollment) process may not always feel easy, and this year isn’t an exception. If you have questions you need answered, don’t hesitate to reach out to the admissions or financial aid offices at the schools you’re considering for guidance and clarity.