Desk of papers with two sets of hands sharing between, CX and Carnegie logos

Expert Answers You Need About FAFSA Delay Concerns: Part 2

In part two of this series, our experts answer your questions about scholarships, loans, final college decisions, and more regarding the 2024 FAFSA delays.

Everyone is wondering the same thing this year: Why is the FAFSA so delayed and what does it mean for college students this fall? In part one of this financial aid Q&A, our in-house financial aid experts discussed why the US Department of Education has had such a delay in the release of FAFSA availability and information to both students and colleges. If you haven’t read part one, go back to get answers to common questions about the current status of the FAFSA process after submission. In part two, we’re covering how these delays affect college costs, loans and other aid, final college decisions, the CSS Profile, and more.

Figuring out costs, loans, scholarships, and grants

How do students figure out college costs and loans while waiting for their FAFSA results?

Once institutions are able to provide financial aid packages to admitted students, they should include detailed information about anticipated costs for attendance at that institution in 2024–2025 and different types of aid, including loans. While you’re waiting for that information, you can look at each institution’s website for the cost of attendance. Some colleges and universities may not have published their 2024–2025 costs yet, but there’s a good chance that they’ll be similar to 2023–2024, which will be published on the institution’s website—just add a typical annual cost increase of about 2%–5%. This isn’t a perfect solution, but it will get you most of the way to your expected college costs.

Will delays in FAFSA processing affect loan disbursements as well as awards for college tuition like scholarships and state-funded grants? What steps should I take in response to prolonged FAFSA delays, particularly if my family's income exceeds eligibility thresholds or other circumstances that may affect these additional forms of aid? 

Schools, state granting agencies, and external scholarship organizations are very much aware of this year’s FAFSA delays and the impact on students and parents currently in the college decision process. If you have questions about potential extensions to scholarship deadlines, it’s always best to contact the sponsor directly because those policies will differ from organization to organization. For state grants, state agencies and institutions will be working hard to get this information to you as soon as possible, but until those agencies and schools receive FAFSA information from the Department of Education, they are limited in what they can do—and unfortunately, so are you. Over the next few weeks (late March into early April), there will hopefully be significant progress in schools and state agencies receiving FAFSA records, processing them, and acting on them to communicate financial aid information to students and families, which will then allow them to take next steps on loans and other forms of aid. 

Related: Student Financial Aid Guide: All About Scholarships, Grants, and Loans

Worrying about making your college decision

How can I decide what college I can afford if the FAFSA keeps getting pushed back? Have there been any other updates about decision deadlines for colleges?

Many colleges and universities have moved their deposit deadlines in response to the FAFSA and financial aid delays. There’s an updated list of institutions that have moved their deadlines courtesy of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. If you’re concerned about not having enough time between receiving your financial aid package and a decision deadline, make sure you communicate that to your institution(s) by email, and ask if they’ll consider granting a deposit deadline extension. Institutions understand that these delays are putting students and parents in a difficult position and may be flexible in extending deadlines for students who need it. 

Seeking answers for specific and unique situations

Will the FAFSA delays impact all financial aid results and decisions, including international students who applied with the CSS Profile?

Not necessarily! The CSS Profile has been unaffected, and many institutions that use this aid form have been able to communicate scholarship and financial aid offers to students based on that information—although, it’s important to note that financial aid communication for Regular Decision admits who submit the CSS Profile is often, even in a year unaffected by FAFSA delays, not communicated until late March into early April. If you have questions about a specific institution and its timeline for sending award information to international students, we recommend contacting that institution’s admission or financial aid office directly.

I submitted the FAFSA in January; will the delays affect the money showing up in my student account to pay my deposit and costs for the fall semester?

As we said, colleges and universities will do their best to process FAFSA information as soon as they receive it. While it may be delayed compared to previous years, this processing should be complete well before the beginning of the 2024–2025 academic year; yet, most institutions will not actually disburse financial aid based on the FAFSA until the start of the fall term or immediately prior. Ultimately, students will have their financial aid in time for the fall and, with delayed decision deadlines, likely in time to make a deposit. There are some exceptions for students enrolling in a summer 2024 term. If you’re concerned about a specific situation like summer enrollment and aid disbursement, again, we recommend contacting the institution(s) directly.

Did they update the inflation issue when calculating the Student Aid Index (SAI)?

Yes, the Department of Education has made the required updates to the Income Protection Allowance and Asset Protection Allowance tables to account for inflation beginning in late January, and those updates should be reflected in the SAIs (formally known as Estimated Family Contribution [EFC]) provided to colleges and universities by the Department of Education beginning in March 2024. 

Related: The Most Important Things to Know About Upcoming FAFSA Changes

We know a lot of answers to your questions are to be patient and reach out to the institution, but this is a serious situation out of a lot of people’s hands. The best you can do is be ready when your FAFSA information is processed and keep an open line of communication with your college(s) if you have concerns beyond when your financial aid packages will be in hand. This situation could look a lot different in a few weeks, so find where you can take control in the meantime and know that financial aid for college is coming.

One thing experts recommend doing in this time of uncertainty is focusing on your scholarship search! There are plenty of awards you can land outside of the FAFSA and what institutions may offer you, so keep searching for scholarship opportunities now.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Abhishek Kumar

Abhishek Kumar

High School Class of 2022

As a high schooler, I know how hard it is to plan for college. You have to consider a lot of factors: SAT/ACT scores, college searches, scholarships, and more. CollegeXpress has been a helpful resource that solves all these problems. One can easily create a free account and search away. They help you search for scholarships and colleges, they have graduate program search, they have lists and rankings, and so much more. CX also has a lot of articles and advice to read—whether it’s financial aid, test prep, campus visits, internships/careers, or anything. Not only that, CX gives out free scholarship money to students who sign up and create a free CX account. I love CX and will continue to use it! Thank you CollegeXpress for making my college journey easier!

Rhiannon Teeter

Rhiannon Teeter

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2012

I have spent a lot of time aggressively searching for scholarships. It was a long and frustrating process until I found the CollegeXpress network. This site made my search so much easier. With the simple check of a few boxes, the site sorted out scholarships I was eligible for and led me directly to the correct websites. Winning this scholarship has definitely given me and my family some financial relief, and CollegeXpress has allowed me to improve my chances of winning further financial aid. Thank you so much!

Fernando Ponce

Fernando Ponce

High School Junior

College is a way of life that helps us find out who we are as a person, and CollegeXpress is a great way to stay connected with our future, even for students with little time on their hands due to the challenges of high school we face.

Brooke Maggio

Brooke Maggio

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me tremendously in my college search in narrowing down the schools I’m interested in. Using the college search tool, I was able to narrow down my choices to schools that matched what I was looking for. I also used CollegeXpress for their scholarship search, which helped me find scholarships that I meet the requirements of.

Courtney Smith

Courtney Smith

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has been a huge help! The website is very organized with finding the right scholarship for anyone and anything. With CollegeXpress, I've been able to find many scholarship opportunities to apply for. Not only that, I'm also able to search for the colleges I have interest in and see what’s required and what scholarships they offer. I've learned a lot from CollegeXpress. They've helped me in many ways to achieve my goals!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Asbury University

Wilmore, KY

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara, CA

Saint Louis University

St. Louis, MO

Merrimack College

North Andover, MA