HEAG is the leader in Title IV Compliance Support and Interim Staffing. We service all sectors of Higher Education and our clients are located in every region of the country: north, south, east and west. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the foundation on which Financial Aid awards are built. The release of the 2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has been eagerly anticipated, but its roll-out has faced unforeseen issues, impacting students and colleges nationwide. On January 30, 2024, the Department announced that institutions and states will begin receiving Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) in the “first half of March.” This delay will wreak havoc on students and institutions across the country. In response, HEAG polled some of its brightest minds and spoke with several current clients. The result:


Incoming Freshman (and All Students)

Don’t Panic!

  • ISIRS will eventually be released
  • Students will receive aid for which they are eligible
  • All colleges are equally affected (no disadvantage, unless you fail to act)
  • Graduate students are minimally affected (primarily unsubsidized, non “need-based” Federal loans)

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

  • Up, Down and Across internally
    • To/From the Executive Level
    • To/From the Division Level
    • To/From the Departmental Level
  • Communicate externally (Students, State Aid associations, College Board)
  • Update website with the most updated information and communications

Consider Using NASFAA’s Student Aid Index (SAI) Tool

  • Survey students
  • Identify unique characteristics (Homeless Youth, Income Thresholds/Not Required to File, Assets, Dependency, Household Size)
  • Provide estimated awards for upcoming year (with disclaimer on eligibility)

Move or Remove Established Deadlines

  • Financial Aid deadlines
  • Student Accounts/Bursar/Finance deadlines 
  • Student Housing deadlines
  • Registration deadlines

Evaluate and Relax Internal Policies (i.e. payment due dates) 

Partner with Any Vendors to Develop Flexible Policies (Book Store, Tuition Payment Plans, Health Insurance) 

Anticipate and Plan for Increased Institutional Aid (Scholarship/Grants)

  • Consider fund reimbursement policy
  • Consider an institutional pledge (won’t go down by more than 10%?) 
  • Consider higher discount rates

Update Net Price Calculators

Establish Urgency with Student Information System (SIS) Vendors to Release and Work Through System Patches and Bugs

  • Focus on preparing and testing SIS systems 
  • Partner with internal IT departments so planning and resources are not delayed

Evaluate Study Abroad Policies and Schedules

Analyze Academic Year Definitions (Summer as a Header)

Establish or Re-establish Employee Wellness Programs

  • Engage Human Resource Departments 
  • Develop internal programming 
  • Conduct routine employee check-ins
  • Provide necessary tools and resources 
  • Openly communicate

Transfer Students

  • Utilize NSLDS data to assess prior year eligibility, estimate awards for upcoming year (with disclaimer on eligibility)

Returning Students

  • Utilize prior year eligibility and award data to provide estimated award letters (duplicate aid) for upcoming year (with disclaimer on eligibility)
  • Utilize prior year Special Circumstances data (Professional Judgement) to estimate upcoming year (with disclaimer on eligibility)


  • Student Information Systems Analysis, Testing & Aid Year Setup 
  • Student level File Review (Eligibility, Verification, Conflicting Information)
  • Manual or Automated Packaging/Awarding (actual or estimates)
  • Special Circumstances (PJ) review and approval
  • Student Outreach and Counseling
  • FAFSA completion webinars
  • Heightened Cash Monitoring File Review & Submission
  • Clean the slate on “year end” activities: SAP evaluation, Withdrawal and Return to Title IV, Exit Counseling, Federal Fund Reconciliation
  • Related Title IV special projects