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Republicans Slam Biden Admin for FAFSA Failures Amid Loan Forgiveness Focus

Republican senators criticized the Biden administration for focusing on questionable student-loan forgiveness plans instead of fixing problems with college financial aid. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is used to figure out how much families can pay for college and helps schools determine financial assistance. This year, the administration rolled out a new simplified FAFSA system, but it has been a mess. Many students are struggling to complete applications, and schools are receiving incorrect data from the government. 

 

Completed FAFSA applications are 30% behind last year, and schools are falling behind in informing students about their aid. Some schools have even delayed their Decision Day by up to a month. Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito called the situation an “unmitigated disaster caused by an inexcusable failure of leadership,” while Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin said the administration needs to fix the problem quickly.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said they are working hard to make things right. He stated that they are in constant communication with colleges, offering clinics for families, and sponsoring webinars. The FAFSA issues could have political consequences, especially for President Biden’s attempts at student loan forgiveness.

Richard Cordray, the chief operating officer of FAFSA, has announced that he will step down in June. Senator Susan Collins demanded an apology from Mr. Cardona and his department for the FAFSA problems, calling their performance “inexcusable.” Mr. Cardona blamed “coding” problems and admitted that the new system had errors when it went live.

Republicans accused the Education Department of prioritizing student loan forgiveness over fixing the problems with the financial aid system. They said the department spent too much time and resources on canceling student debt instead of focusing on the FAFSA issues. In December 2020, Congress directed the Education Department to simplify FAFSA, as it was overly complex and time-consuming.

Despite three years of preparation, the FAFSA rollout has been problematic. It went live months later than planned and had difficulties processing applications from certain students. The National College Attainment Network reported that FAFSA submissions and completions were significantly behind the previous year.

The FAFSA setbacks are the latest in a series of challenges for Mr. Cordray, who previously led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and ran for governor in Ohio. This situation has garnered bipartisan criticism, with both Republican and Democratic senators expressing frustration with the administration’s handling of FAFSA and calling for swift action to resolve the issues.

Written by Staff Reports

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