California delays financial aid deadline over bungled FAFSA rollout

The state is giving students an extra month to apply for scholarships.

SACRAMENTO, California — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed legislation extending the deadline for students to apply for state scholarships as problems continue to beset the Biden administration’s rollout of a simplified federal aid form.

The April 2 deadline to apply for the need-based Cal Grant and Middle Class Scholarship that California funds will be pushed by a month, giving students more time to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Cita Cita Cita Cita Cita Cita Cita

The Democratic governor’s move is the latest in a series of attempts across the country to blunt the impact of widespread issues with the new form — from processing delays to technical problems — which have drawn Republican fury on Capitol Hill and frustrated parents and students.

The extension will “help ensure more California students are able to complete the FAFSA, avail themselves of state Cal Grant or Middle Class Scholarship financial aid, and enable them to access the financial resources to begin fulfilling their dreams of achieving higher education,” said Democratic Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes, who authored the bill.

The bill was fast-tracked through the state Legislature last week and backed by the state’s public university systems. It’s meant to help applicants who have so far been unable to fill out the FAFSA — especially students whose parents are undocumented who for months couldn’t complete the form due to technical glitches.

The U.S. Department of Education resolved the issue for families of mixed immigration status this month, but took another step backward last week when it announced it had made errors in calculating around 200,000 student aid offers.

The near-constant technical problems with the online form have caused such a significant dropoff in applications in California that the state student aid commission estimates as much as $100 million could be awarded to students who apply over the next month. The two state aid programs award more than $2 billion each year, supplementing federal scholarships like the Pell Grant.

California public universities had already given students at least two extra weeks, until May 15, to commit to attending as they await backlogged financial aid offers. Processing delays in Washington, D.C., have caused colleges to receive students’ financial information later than usual, prompting several other universities across the country to delay decision day to June 1.