Launch Global Education
Odyssey newsletter: Special FAFSA Edition

Volume 3  Issue 2

 by Michael Wagner

 Knowledge Pilot, Launch Global Education

Odyssey logo

A Special FAFSA Edition

This week's edition of the Odyssey Newsletter is focused on an educational news roundup, with a series of articles that look at the release of the updated Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. From the complexities of the financial aid system to a critical glitch in this year's FAFSA form, the articles shed light on the challenges students face in obtaining financial assistance for college. As a result of the FAFSA delays, higher education organizations are urging colleges to extend decision deadlines for prospective students beyond May 1st.

Our tip of the week emphasizes the importance of high school students proactively engaging with their college counselors to shape their academic paths and maximize success in the college application process. The newsletter concludes with a historic moment: Del. Don Scott Jr. becomes Virginia's first Black speaker of the House of Delegates.


Hundred dollar bills

Why does college have to be so expensive?

It is a complex and challenging process to save and pay for college in the United States. The convoluted system involves various forms, including the CSS Profile, federal PLUS loans, and the challenge of deciphering financial aid offers. Despite efforts to increase access to education, the complexity of the system poses barriers, particularly for low-income students. Ron Lieber, the Your Money columnist for The New York Times, goes in depth about the complexities of the financial system in higher education and calls for potential solutions to make college more affordable and accessible.

Why is paying for college so complicated?

What did the DOE get themselves into?

In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, students and families are grappling with a new wave of uncertainty surrounding financial aid for college. A critical glitch in this year's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has not only been thrown off by the new and updated application timeline, it has also put $1.8 billion in federal student aid at risk. This article delves into the details of the FAFSA error, and sheds light on the concerns expressed by financial aid offices nationwide. As the Education Department commits to rectifying the mistake for the 2024-2025 award year, the pressing question remains: How will this not only affect the already delicate financial aid timelines but also the national commitment day for students and colleges alike? Cory Turner, Correspondent/Senior Editor of NPR Ed outlines the major issues with the new form and process.

Exclusive: The Education Department says it will fix its $1.8 billion FAFSA mistake

The FAFSA rollout has not gone as planned

College hopefuls are experiencing extended wait times for their financial aid offers this year due to the delayed release of the updated Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. Now we have learned that a critical mistake in this year's FAFSA, related to the failure to adjust for inflation, could reduce the federal financial aid many students receive. The U.S. Department of Education is grappling with whether to rectify this error in time for this year's applicants, a move that could potentially further delay aid offers but would also mean increased assistance for qualifying students. The article highlights the complexity of the situation and the potential consequences for students, colleges, and the financial aid application process. NPR Ed Correspondent/Senior Editor, Cory Turner, examines a major issue affecting large groups of students.

The FAFSA rollout has been rough on students. The biggest problem is yet to come

A delay that had to be expected

The U.S. Department of Education has announced a significant delay in transmitting Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) information to colleges, pushing the timeline to the first half of March, a month later than initially communicated. This delay is attributed to complications arising from the introduction of a new, simplified FAFSA form with over 100 questions reduced to less than half.

Colleges and state agencies, dependent on timely FAFSA data for financial aid decisions, were caught off guard by the last-minute announcement. The delay also highlights ongoing issues with the new form, preventing a large number of students from completing it online. Higher education experts express concerns about the impact of these abrupt changes on the financial aid processing cycle and urge swift resolution to avoid repercussions for students. Natalie Schwartz, Senior Editor, of Higher Ed Dive, reports the major news of the delay of financial aid information to the colleges.

Colleges won’t receive FAFSA applicant info until March, Education Department says

Possible new national commitment date

In response to ongoing delays in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) data transmission by the U.S. Department of Education, nine prominent higher education organizations are urging colleges to extend their decision deadlines for prospective students beyond May 1. The Education Department recently announced that colleges will not receive FAFSA applicant information until the first half of March, significantly later than initially promised, causing concerns about the limited timeframe for institutions to make financial aid offers.

The organizations emphasize the need for flexibility to allow students and their families sufficient time to evaluate their financial options before making enrollment decisions. Staff reporter Laura Spitalniak of Higher Ed Dive explains the driving forces behind delaying the date. This call for deadline extensions mirrors measures taken by many colleges during the pandemic, demonstrating a collective effort to prioritize the well-being of prospective students, considering this unique situation students, families and schools are experiencing.

Colleges should extend May 1 decision deadline amid FAFSA delays, higher ed groups say

Data behind the delay

The U.S. Department of Education announced that 3.1 million Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms have been submitted this admissions cycle (beginning on December 31, 2023), yet the transmission of FAFSA applicant information to colleges has been delayed until March, intensifying pressure on institutions to expedite financial aid offers. Higher Ed Dive, Staff Reporter Natalie Schwartz outlines the numbers as a result of the FAFSA delay.

This week in 5 numbers: Another FAFSA delay

Tip of the Week

student meeting with counselor

Be proactive, own your education – schedule a meeting with your counselor

With most high school students just completing the first semester of the school year, it is hard to already be thinking about and planning for the 2024-2025 school year. However, students need to own their academic life and the first step in that process is to take a proactive approach in shaping and planning their educational paths.

One critical step is setting up a dedicated one-on-one meeting with your college counselor. By engaging in early course planning discussions, students can tailor their academic experience to align with their future goals and aspirations. This strategic approach not only ensures a well-rounded education but also maximizes the potential for success during the college application process.

I strongly encourage all high school students to schedule a meeting with their college counselor to kickstart this collaborative course planning process. In the famous words by Benjamin Franklin: “Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.” Set up a meeting, you will not regret it.

Before you go...

Virginia Catol

First black speaker of the Virginia house

In a historic moment for the state of Virginia, Del. Don Scott Jr. was sworn in as the state's first Black speaker of the House of Delegates, breaking new ground in the legislature's 400-year history. The Portsmouth Democrat, elected to the chamber in 2019 and chosen unanimously by his party for the speakership in November, reflected on his journey from serving in the Navy, to facing federal prison time for a drug conspiracy case, to ascending to the state's highest legislative position. Scott, now 58, emphasized the importance of resilience and redemption, stating that "damaged goods sometimes can turn out to be OK."

As he takes on the role of speaker, Scott faces the challenge of leading a divided government, navigating a slim majority in the House, and addressing contentious issues such as abortion and gun control. The swearing-in ceremony occurred in Richmond, a city with historical significance as the former capital of the confederacy, underscoring the symbolic weight of Scott's achievement. He expressed gratitude for the opportunity and acknowledged the significance of his distinguished appointment in becoming the first Black speaker in Virginia's long legislative history. Scott MacFarlane and Kaia Hubbard report for CBS News.

Don Scott, sworn in as first Black speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates, was once a federal prison inmate

It is essential to stay abreast of general higher education topics and issues and there is no more important issue right now than the new FAFSA process. The recent release of the updated Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) brings both opportunities and challenges for students and families navigating the complex terrain of higher education funding. We hope you find this information both informative and helpful. Please take a moment and pass along the Odyssey Newsletter, especially this week to your friends that have children who are high school seniors. As always, we appreciate your support.

Mr. Mike

Mr. Michael J. Wagner

Michael Wagner, MAED is a founder and the Knowledge Pilot for Launch Education.  Mr. Mike has assisted hundreds of students around the world on their college pathways.