Inside the Blunders That Plunged the College Admission Season Into Disarray

There were just days left to process a batch of federal financial aid applications when Education Department officials made a fateful discovery: 70,000 emails from students all over the country, containing reams of essential data.

They were sitting in an inbox, untouched.

That discovery last week started a panicked, three-day crash effort by more than 200 of the department’s employees, including Richard Cordray, the nation’s top student aid official, to read through each of the emails one by one and extract crucial identifying information required for financial aid. The students’ futures depended on it.

“It needs to get untangled,” Mr. Cordray told his staff members on Thursday, according to recordings of two back-to-back meetings that The New York Times obtained. “So, you know, I’m getting pretty impatient.”

An exasperated staff member shot back, “We worked all night long — literally — all night.”

It was another setback in the botched rollout of a new version of the Free royalbet spor bahisleri Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA, that millions of families and thousands of schools rely on to determine how students will pay for college. Three years ago, Congress ordered the Education Department to revamp the new form to make it easier and more accessible. It has been anything but.

For nearly six months, students and schools navigated a bureaucratic mess caused by severe delays in launching the website and processing critical information. A series of blunders by the department — from a haphazard rollout to technical meltdowns — have left students and schools in limbo and plunged the most critical stage of the college admissions season into disarray.

Richard Cordray, the nation’s top student aid official, assembled emergency teams of volunteers to work overtime to blast through the backlog of emails.Credit…John Minchillo/Associated Press

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