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Ernst Requests Investigation into Biden Admin’s Botched Student Aid Rollout

Despite having three years to prepare updated FAFSA forms, Department of Ed delays students’ access to college aid.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) joined her colleagues in requesting a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation into the Biden administration’s failure to properly implement the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) format, delaying students’ and families’ access to crucial financial aid information for the upcoming 2024-2025 school year.

As students and families continue to report significant challenges with the new format, lawmakers are demanding answers from the Department of Education (the Department) to prevent future complications and ensure students can submit information to schools in a timely manner to secure a comprehensive picture of their grant and loan eligibility.

“As the cost of higher education continues to rise, I'm working to ensure students and families are aware of the resources available to help them budget and plan for their futures,” said Senator Ernst. “I understand the important role FAFSA plays in helping students access a college education and will continue to push our federal agencies to meet the commitments they are required by law to honor on behalf of students and families.”

Read the full letter here


The bipartisan FAFSA Simplification Act was signed into law in December 2020 to make financial aid more accessible for all students by streamlining the application process and adjusting the calculation for the student’s expected family contribution. Despite having three years to prepare for the FAFSA rollout, the application was then only accessible for sporadic periods until it became fully live on nearly a week after the Jan. 1, 2024 deadline.

The form is typically accessible to students on Oct. 1 of each year, to allow for ample time to submit financial information in advance of both state and school-specific deadlines for aid eligibility. However, due to incomplete planning measures, the Department released this year’s version three months late, drastically condensing the timeline families will have to submit for aid.

Ernst has worked to help students from families with small businesses and family farms in particular. In 2023, sheintroduced the Family Farm and Small Business Exemption Act to reverse recent changes to the FAFSA process that could reduce or even eliminate access to need-based student aid for farm families and small business owners. She also introduced the Student Transparency for Understanding Decisions in Education Net Terms (STUDENT) Act to give prospective students an estimate of the total amount of interest they would pay on a loan.