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Published: May 01, 2024 9 min read
Photo-illustration of a hand holding an envelope with a graduation cap postal stamp.
Money; Getty Images

In a typical year, the start of May would mark the end of the college application process, with most incoming freshmen knowing where they were going in the fall.

This year, though, has been anything but ordinary.

Families across the country are still waiting on financial aid letters from at least some of the colleges where they applied, even as May 1 — traditionally used by many colleges as a deadline for students to notify them of their plans to enroll — comes and goes.

Families were supposed to have an easier time applying for college financial aid this year, thanks to a major revamp of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that resulted in a shorter, simpler form. But the rollout of the new form has been plagued with issues, including a late launch, long delays before colleges received applicant information from the government and data problems that required the Department of Education to reprocess many students’ forms.

Without the aid packages that detail the kinds of grants, scholarships and loans a student qualifies for, families have been stuck: They know where they've been accepted, but they don’t know how much they’d actually have to pay to attend.

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When will financial aid letters go out?