BLOG: Presidential Perspectives

Understanding FAFSA delays

What students and their families need to know

At Central Michigan University, we are committed to keeping education accessible and affordable for our students and their families. We offer many need-based and merit-based scholarships, and the CMU Scholarship Universe helps students connect with hundreds of other scholarship and grant opportunities. 

The first step in accessing scholarships and other forms of financial aid is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – the FAFSA. In recent weeks, there have been numerous news stories about the delays with the rollout and processing of the FAFSA, and we know the uncertainty has raised questions for our current and prospective students. 

For today’s blog, I have invited Sarah Kasabian-Larson, CMU’s Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid, to share information about the delays, what they mean for CMU and for our students, and what students and families can do now to ensure they remain eligible for aid and on-track to reach commencement day.

A close-up photo of Sarah Kasabian-Larson, Director of Scholarships and Financial AidDear CMU community,

On January 30th, the Department of Education announced the new FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)another delay in the rollout of the new FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for the 2024-25 academic year. The delay means that colleges and universities will not begin to receive current and prospective students’ FAFSA information until – at the earliest – mid-March. 

The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid is here to help you understand what this means for you – please read on to learn what’s happening, what steps students can take now, and how CMU can help.


Why is the FAFSA delayed?

Through the FAFSA Simplification Act, the FAFSA has undergone a complete redesign. The goal was to simplify the financial aid process and expand aid eligibility for students. These updates have led to delays in both the federal government’s rollout and processing of the form. The most recent delay allows for a correction in the Student Aid Index (SAI) calculation, and accounts for inflation; this will ultimately open up $1.8 billion more in federal aid. Despite the temporary delays, the result will be an easier-than-ever financial aid process for students, ensuring that they can access the maximum aid possible. 

What does this mean for current CMU students and their families?

With these delays, current students who have submitted their 2024-25 FAFSA will not receive their financial aid offer until later this spring. For students who received financial aid in the past, this may make it harder to plan for the year ahead. Please note: While students await their financial aid offer, they should continue to plan courses and future enrollment so they stay on track for graduation.

At CMU we are committed to ensuring our eligible students have access to all forms of financial aid, even with the later than usual timelines. Once a student’s financial aid offer is ready, we will send an email to the student’s email account with a link to the new financial aid portal for review.  Please check your email regularly and be sure to review your aid offer carefully; again, we expect to send these out later this spring.

What does it mean for prospective CMU students and their families?

In this unique year, financial aid offers for prospective students will not be available until CMUs receive FAFSA data from the Department of Education in early-to-mid-April. Once we receive the student’s FAFSA information, we will consider their eligibility for all forms of aid, including the new CMU Tuition Advantage. Once the offer is ready, we will send the student an email to their email account; this will include a link to review their offer in the financial aid portal. We also will send a comprehensive paper copy by mail. 

Please note: Students are still able to — and encouraged to — secure their spot at CMU by submitting an enrollment deposit and housing deposit as they wait for their financial aid offer. Deposit refund timelines have been pushed back to June 1 to provide students flexibility as they wait.

What should students do now?

There are steps you can take right now!

  • File your 2024-25 FAFSA! CMU’s school code is 002243. 
  • Ask questions. If you have questions regarding the financial aid process or filling out your FAFSA, reach out to the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. We are here to help! 
  • Keep planning. Current students should still meet with your advisor, plan for the upcoming academic year, and register for courses when your registration opens. New students should submit their enrollment and housing deposit. 
  • Apply for scholarships. CMU has a variety of scholarship opportunities – check out the CMU Scholarship Universe
  • Keep your eye on your email address. When your financial aid offer notification is ready to be viewed in your new financial aid portal, you will receive an email in your CMICH email account with next steps.

How can CMU help?

With the use of the FAFSA, we can determine your eligibility for federal, state, and institutional aid. At CMU, over 90% of degree-seeking students qualify for a form of financial aid, so ALL students should complete the FAFSA! At CMU, we are committed to ensuring that our students receive the max aid possible from all available resources, even as we navigate these delays together. 

Visit these helpful resources for guidance on the FAFSA process to maximize your aid eligibility as you wait for your financial aid offer later this spring.

  • Understand the FAFSA Simplification Act changes: read more on CMU’s FAFSA Simplification webpage.
  • Schedule an appointment to receive one-on-one help through the FAFSA filing process and/or attend a FAFSA drop-in workshop on campus this spring. 

We know the financial aid process is complex, and this year has been no exception. However, this temporary delay is simplifying the aid process and will improve the process for years to come by expanding aid eligibility for those that qualify. Completing the FAFSA opens doors to a range of financial aid options and resources that can alleviate the costs associated with education. 

We want to assure you that, as a university, we are here to support you every step of the way. Our dedicated financial aid team is available to answer your questions, provide guidance on completing the FAFSA, and assist with navigating the changes. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. We are here to help.

The views and opinions expressed in these blog pages are strictly those of the page author.