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College aid stuck in DC shutdown chaos

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TLDR:

  • During the federal shutdown, the Biden administration’s plan to increase college financial aid was rejected by Congress, causing turmoil.
  • This led to concerns about delays in financial aid offers to students and highlighted ongoing issues with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

College financial aid was thrown into chaos during the federal shutdown, as the Biden administration’s attempt to increase aid for low-income students was shot down by Congress. The Education Department’s sudden request to direct additional funds to the Pell grant program sparked a last-minute battle among lawmakers, with fears of depleting funding reserves for future years. The turmoil in Washington left colleges and financial aid administrators scrambling to adjust their plans, with concerns about delays in aid offers to students. The situation also shed light on ongoing technical errors and delays with the FAFSA, adding to the frustration in the higher ed community.

Despite the Education Department’s insistence that the changes won’t cause further delays, the fallout from the shutdown debacle has strained trust between the government and colleges. The dust settled with a temporary solution to protect Pell program funding, but both Democrats and Republicans expressed disappointment with the outcome. The chaos also stalled a bipartisan bill to expand financial aid for short-term college programs, with concerns about potential misuse by for-profit colleges. The uncertainty lingers as the higher ed community navigates the aftermath of the shutdown melee.

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