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Head of Federal Student Aid steps down after chaotic FAFSA season

FAFSA 122923 Photo AdobeStock e1706117102399

The head of the Federal Student Aid (FSA) office Richard Cordray announced Friday he would step down from his role following the difficulties with the first season of the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms.

“My first day at FSA was May 4, 2021. Next week, my three-year term as the Chief Operating Officer will come to a close, and I have written to the Secretary to confirm that I will not be continuing for another three-year term. We have agreed, however, that I will continue to fulfill my current duties for a transitional period as the Department considers the longer term,” Cordray said in a letter to FSA employees.

The Department of Education has faced bipartisan criticism for the struggles students and colleges have had with the new FAFSA forms.

Republicans have pressed for Cordray to resign, while advocates have called for consequences against the department for the chaotic rollout.

“If there was a financial aid director, or even a college president, that delayed financial aid on their campus for up to six months, the professional price that would be paid for that would be pretty steep,” Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said at a House hearing focused on the FAFSA implementation.

The new FAFSA forms were rolled out at the beginning of January, but it took several weeks before people could get access to them without technical difficulties.

There were then delays in colleges receiving financial aid information. While originally schools should have received it at the end of January, it got pushed back to mid-March.

Once the information was sent, millions of applications had processing issues that had to be corrected. Some schools don’t expect aid offers out until May, when the normal deadline students have for deciding which school to go to is May 1.

“As my three-year term as FSA Chief is ending, we have achieved key milestones for FSA. Over my tenure, we provided student loan forgiveness to more than 4,000,000 borrowers and their families; made it easier for people to apply for and manage federal student aid; and took strong actions to hold schools accountable for defrauding students. I have agreed to stay on for an interim period to help with the transition,” Cordray said in a statement.

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