Financial aid budgeting remains unchanged despite FAFSA delays

By Gabriel Donahue, editor-in-chief

Despite the University System of Maryland declaring it would push back its deadline for accepted students to enroll in its colleges as federal financial aid information stalls nationwide, Towson University’s financial aid budgeting remains unchanged. 

“The impact on the financial side is minimal, because the dollars are coming, in terms of the overall budget, from […] the state appropriations and the tuition revenue,” chief financial officer Ben Lowenthal said. “The tuition revenue does not start flowing in until we are actually delivering classes.” 

Essentially, the delay would only affect money available for financial aid if the university had to push back the registration timeline so far that it would not receive tuition payments when classes begin in August. 

A revamp of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid caused delays on the national level that has left colleges without the information necessary to create financial aid packages for prospective students until March, according to Higher Ed Dive

Consequently, some colleges and universities, including Towson, have strayed from the national decision day of May 1. University System of Maryland colleges will now allow accepted students to take until May 15 to make their decision on where to enroll, The Towerlight reported

“For us as an institution, there’s a lot of risk here because the types of students that we enroll are basically dependent on that need-based aid,” Vice President for Enrollment Management Boyd Bradshaw said in an interview before the change was announced. 

The risk lies in how applications will transfer to enrollment. Financial aid packages can make or break a student’s decision to attend certain colleges. 

Towson President Mark Ginsberg told The Towerlight in an email that the decision day change had to “be modest in order for us to notify our students of financial aid decisions in as timely a way as possible.” 

The university has received over 20,000 first-time applications, marking an institutional first, according to a Feb. 15 email from Bradshaw. Last year, Towson received 18,948 first-time applicants, university data shows. 

Dollars allocated to financial aid continue to hover around the usual 6% of university expenditures. 

Even with decreased enrollment when the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020, when the student body headcount dipped below 20,000, the portion of the budget set aside for financial aid stayed the same, Lowenthal said.  

“What we’re doing is keeping that constant and allowing [the] Financial Aid office to distribute it accordingly,” he said.

Gabe Donahue has held numerous positions within The Towerlight. He started as a writer before becoming the News Editor, and now he serves as Editor-in-Chief.


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