Which colleges are extending their decision deadlines?

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Dive Brief:

  • At least 190 U.S. colleges have postponed their commitment deadlines for the 2024-25 academic year amid federal financial aid delays, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling. 
  • NACAC recently released a public directory of the enrollment deadlines of its member colleges. Although the list isn’t comprehensive — as it only includes information submitted by NACAC members — it offers a glimpse into how colleges nationwide are grappling with an abbreviated financial aid timeline.
  • A majority of NACAC’s member institutions that reported extended deadlines now require prospective students to decide by either May 15 or June 1, the directory shows, instead of the more traditional May 1.

Dive Insight:

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid form underwent an extensive revision this application cycle, leading to significant delays.

The updated FAFSA is intended to make filling out the notoriously difficult form less of a headache for students and their families. However, the U.S. Department of Education released the simplified version late last year, roughly three months later than usual. Technical difficulties and last-minute changes to aid formulas further complicated matters.

The agency initially said it would transmit FAFSA applicant information to colleges in late January, before further pushing the send date back to the first half of March. The shortened timeline gives applicants less time to weigh their financial aid options. 

When announcing deadline extensions, college leaders often cited the desire to give back lost time to applicants to consider their choices. 

For example, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s 10 campuses have pushed back their decision deadlines to at least May 15.

“Going to college and earning a degree or credential is life changing, and those decisions should not be rushed,” said Dan Greenstein, the system’s chancellor, in a February statement. “This extension gives students the time and flexibility to consider their financial aid options and make informed decisions.”

Citing a similar rationale, George Mason University, in Virginia, also pushed its acceptance deadline to May 15. Two-thirds of its students receive financial aid, according to its announcement.

“Like other universities in the region, we want to make sure that they have time to consider the offers they may get and make the best college decision for them and their families,” David Burge, vice president for enrollment management at George Mason, said in a statement.

Last month, a senior Education Department official voiced support for the extensions, calling them the right thing for colleges to do.

So far, about two dozen of NACAC’s members, including the University of Arizona, the University of Richmond and the Juilliard School in New York, have said they will not move their decision deadlines. And almost four dozen more reported they are still weighing the possibility. 

Ten international institutions open to U.S. students have also extended their decision deadlines, according to NACAC.

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