By Katherine Knott
A group of Republicans in the House and Senate is asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate the Education Department’s launch of the new version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
The new form, delayed by three months, launched earlier this year, though the rollout was rocky. The form was not available 24 hours a day until several days after the initial launch, and students experienced other technical challenges in accessing the application.
“All these challenges and delays may cause some students—particularly low-income students who are most dependent on federal aid—to give up and not pursue postsecondary education,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter Wednesday to the GAO.
They want to know what challenges students faced in filling out the form as well as the hurdles colleges and universities experienced while administering financial aid for the 2024–25 academic year. The lawmakers also want the GAO to look into whether the department gave students and institutions sufficient information and guidance to navigate the changes.
Louisiana senator Dr. Bill Cassidy, the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and North Carolina representative Virginia Foxx, the Republican chair of the House education committee, requested the investigation along with 26 other lawmakers.
“Repeated delays from the Department of Education in rolling out the new FAFSA have left students and schools in limbo for the upcoming school year,” the letter says. “Although students have traditionally been able to start submitting a FAFSA each year on October 1st, Education was three months late launching the new application and it was not consistently available on Education’s website until early January … These delays have left many students uncertain about their educational future.”