UIndy Pushes Back Enrollment Deadline from to Accommodate for FAFSA Delays

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The enrollment deadline has been extended for prospective students thinking about commiting to the University of Indianapolis, according to an announcement from UIndy 360. Originally May 1, the deadline for submitting the deposit in order to commit to UIndy has been extended to June 1, following the overhauls made to the FAFSA last December. Following the changes, UIndy will send out financial aid packages in March and April instead of November, according to UIndy 360.

UIndy Senior Director of Admissions Megan Godsey said the decision to extend the date for commitment stemmed from how late financial aid information will come out. She said the extension was made so potential students do not feel rushed to commit after receiving financial aid information.

“We know that financial aid is a big factor in students’ decision making,” Godsey said. “[Because] they won’t have the information as soon as we would have liked, we decided to extend the deadline to ensure that students have all of the information to make their best decision moving forward regarding the institution they decide to enroll in.”

According to Director of Financial Aid Nathan Lohr, the FAFSA’s overhaul has a significant impact on the timing of which students receive financial aid. As the department has yet to receive FAFSA information from the Department of Education, there is uncertainty regarding when the Office of Financial Aid will be able to create financial aid packages, Lohr said.

“We haven’t received any official results from the Department of Education yet and don’t have an official date of when we will,” Lohr said. “We are anticipating receiving the financial aid information by mid-March. But what that means is that we don’t have the information that we need yet to determine what financial aid a student is going to be eligible for next year.”

Interim Vice President of Enrollment Management Steve Schuetz said UIndy’s response to FAFSA’s overhaul and access issues was a contingency plan. Following a calculation error in the FAFSA, their original and backup plans for awards had to be altered, according to Schuetz. He said this will also affect when current students get their financial aid information.

“The other thing that’s going to be important for current UIndy students to know is that because this timeline is pushing back our ability to get new students’ awards out, it will also push back our ability to get current students renewal awards because students have to fill out the FAFSA each and every year,” Schuetz said. “It’s impacted you and other current students and your ability to get the information in and get it in a timely manner. So that means that we probably won’t get information out to our current students until May.”

According to the Current Student FAFSA Update by the Office of Financial Aid, as a result of the changes, current students may have to register for fall classes before receiving financial aid. Despite this, the Office of Financial Aid said UIndy is committed to providing students with consistent financial aid packages. Lohr said the changes within the FAFSA will be beneficial to students for the foreseeable future.

“I think right now it can cause some delays and challenges for students,” Lohr said. “I think in the long term it’s going to be beneficial. The process to complete the FAFSA should be much simpler for most students moving forward. The other main benefit of the changes to the FAFSA is that it should make more students eligible for federal grants, both in terms of number of students that are eligible and in the amount that they’re eligible to receive.”

According to Schuetz, an overhaul on this scale has not occurred within the FAFSA before. The last time something like this occurred was a decade ago, Schuetz said, and it gave students more time to apply, rather than affecting admissions and financial aid. The only other time the date for enrollment was extended occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Schuetz.

“About 10 years ago, they [the Department of Education] started opening the FAFSA on Oct. 1, and students could fill out their applications and they still had until May 1 to decide,” Schuetz said. “It didn’t change our decision-making timeline, but it allowed students to have information earlier than that. The only other time that schools made any adjustments to the decision date … was when the pandemic hit.”

According to Schuetz and Lohr, the decision to extend the deadline was the result of collaboration between the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of Admissions. Lohr said that the decision was made in order to offer an affordable education to students and shows the long-time collaboration between the two entities.

“We’ve been collaborating from the beginning, and I think one of the big areas where we work together is in communication,” Lohr said. “We want to make sure that students and families who are considering UIndy know what’s going on and know what they need to do in order to maximize their financial aid eligibility here at the university. It’s been a real collaborative effort to make sure that the messages that we’re sharing keep students informed and keep families informed so that they know that we are here not just to provide an affordable education, but we’re here to support them and be here as a resource to help them through.”

Godsey said that despite the challenges which occurred within the FAFSA earlier this year, student deposit numbers are similar to last year. The issues due to FAFSA should not be a deterrent for prospective students, Godsey said, and all students should submit their FAFSA before April 15 for the best results.

“We want students to utilize any federal and state funding that they may qualify for, but that FAFSA data does help us, as a private institution, to seek out additional institutional funding that they may qualify for,” Godsey said. “While there might be some frustrations, it’s important to stick with it and get the FAFSA submitted so that way we can receive those results and then provide them with the best financial offer that is going to make it as affordable as possible for them.”

Godsey said this decision shows that while UIndy may be a private university, it is willing to work with students to afford tuition. The awards and scholarships offered can make first-generation students’ dreams a reality, according to Godsey.

“We understand we are a private institution, so our sticker price can sometimes scare folks and again, kind of deter them from even going through the application process,” Godsey said. “But we realize that we want to make this an affordable option for them, and I think with the different awards and scholarships that we have implemented over the years will really help make that a reality for students.”

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