“Stunning Incompetence” Owens Calls for Investigation into Biden Admin’s FAFSA Failures

WASHINGTON Higher Education and Workforce Development Chairman Burgess Owens (R-UT) joined Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Senate Health, Education, Labor, Pensions Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and 26 lawmakers in requesting a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation into the Biden administration’s failure to properly implement the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) program, causing delays in students and families’ access to crucial financial aid for college.

“I am deeply concerned about the stunning incompetence in the implementation of the new FAFSA program by the Biden administration and am calling for an immediate investigation,” said Chair Owens. “America’s students deserve a functional FAFSA system, and the delays in making the application accessible are unacceptable. A thorough GAO investigation will get to the root cause behind these delays, assess the impact on students, and prevent future failures.”

Background: 

The bipartisan FAFSA Simplification Act, passed in 2020 with the intention of streamlining the application process, aimed to make financial aid more accessible for all students. The legislation mandated the Department of Education (Education) to roll out the FAFSA program by January 1st, 2024. Despite having three years to prepare, Education made the application available for borrowers for only 30 minutes on December 30th, an additional hour on December 31st, and sporadic periods until becoming fully live on Saturday, January 6th, days after the Congress-set deadline.

In addition to these complications, FAFSA, typically available for students on October 1st, experienced a delayed timeline. Education’s setbacks forced high school counselors to postpone financial aid information sessions, and they are now rushing to connect with students and families to help navigate the new FAFSA process. Furthermore, these setbacks mean colleges cannot provide students with financial aid offers, giving them less time and information to compare packages and choose the best college option.

Owens, Foxx, and Cassidy are joined by U.S. Representatives Rick Allen (R-GA), Erin Houchin (R-IN), Lisa McClain (R-MI), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), Michelle Steel (R-CA), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Tim Walberg (R-MI), and Brandon Williams (R-NY). They are also joined by U.S. Senators John Barrasso, M.D. (R-WY), Mike Braun (R-IN), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE) Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), James Lankford (R-OK), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and J.D. Vance (R-OH).

Read the full letter here

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