Pennsylvania's 10 state universities will extend their new-student commitment deadlines by at least two weeks amid delays associated with the revamped Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Students applying to the state schools — including Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania Western University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania — should now commit by "at least" May 15, according to a news release.

Traditionally, universities set commitment deadlines of May 1, which is National College Decision Day.

"Going to college and earning a degree or credential is life changing, and those decisions should not be rushed," system Chancellor Dan Greenstein said in the release. "This extension gives students the time and flexibility to consider their financial aid options and make informed decisions."

The extension follows hiccups with the new FAFSA, released in December. When the updated form initially dropped, droves of students and their families faced technology issues and limited time frames to actually complete the application.

Then, several weeks ago, the Department of Education announced that it wouldn't begin transferring financial information to colleges until March — a month later than initially anticipated.

The delay means that students and families will wait even longer to see how much aid they will receive. Challenges are heightened for high school seniors, who often weigh financial aid offers before choosing which college to attend.

The revamped FAFSA aims to improve both the application and the way the government analyzes student needs.

Key changes to the form include a shortened question pool and a streamlined process for government access to the financial information of applicants and their families. Beginning in the 2024-25 award year, a new interface allows the government to directly receive federal tax information from the Internal Revenue Service when determining student needs and grant eligibility.

Additionally, beginning in the 2024-25 award year, the federal government will determine financial aid needs based on a Student Aid Index metric. Compared to the previous metric, this new metric disregards family size in its calculations and will provide more funding for low-income applicants.

The FAFSA is available online. Greenstein encouraged state system students and applicants to fill out the application as soon as possible.

"I encourage all high school seniors and any other potential students to complete the new, streamlined FAFSA form as soon as possible," he said. "Submitting the form is the vital first step to accessing grants, scholarships and other free aid that many Pennsylvania students need and deserve."


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