Skip to main content

FAFSA Flop: What Is Going On with the 2024–25 Cycle?

American Enterprise Institute

May 9, 2024

Event Summary

On May 9, AEI hosted a panel conversation with AEI’s Beth Akers and Michael Brickman, Karen McCarthy of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and Mark Kantrowitz. As experts in higher education and finance, the group discussed why the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) needed to be simplified, the journey to carry out the necessary reforms, and the impact of past missteps.

Mr. Brickman outlined the players in the legislative process of the FAFSA Simplification Act and the implementation of the new FAFSA. Then, Mr. Kantrowitz discussed the process and timeline of the Department of Education’s various errors. Ms. McCarthy addressed the impacts—current and projected—to the students, institutions, and financial aid sector. The panel discussed practical tips for submitting the FAFSA as it currently stands and the appropriate level of optimism we should have for the 2025–26 cycle after learning from this year’s.

The event concluded with questions from the audience.

—Caitlyn Aversman

Event Description

Implementing the legislatively approved, simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has been disastrous for many families and institutions. While the Biden administration has pursued other goals on higher education—namely, loan forgiveness—FAFSA’s launch was three months late, the portal had glitches, call lines were long, and students and families were left in the dark about what grant and loan packages they were eligible for. All of this seemingly led to a large drop in applications—over 60 percent less than the previous year, according to some estimates.

AEI’s Beth Akers and a panel of experts will discuss how we ended up with these errors and some of the anticipated implications—for students and their families and educational institutions.


3:00 p.m.
Beth Akers, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

3:05 p.m.
Panel Discussion

Michael Brickman, Adjunct Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
Mark Kantrowitz, Editorial Board Member, Journal of Student Financial Aid
Karen McCarthy, Vice President of Public Policy and Federal Relations, National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

Beth Akers, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

3:45 p.m.

4:00 p.m.

Related Content

Even Democrats Are Mad at Biden for Dropping the Ball on FAFSA
Beth Akers | AEIdeas | February 14, 2024

Biden Administration Continues to Fumble the New Financial Aid Application
Beth Akers | AEIdeas | January 31, 2024