Education Dept. plans to modernize Federal Student Aid office, Cardona announces

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona published an eight-point plan that includes a review of the office of Federal Student Aid, restructuring senior leader reporting protocols and a new IT innovation team.
Miguel Cardona
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona (Joshua Roberts / Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Thursday released his plans to improve the experiences of students, families, borrowers and schools after its tumultuous rollout of the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid. 

Cardona detailed his eight-point plan in a letter sent to staff, which includes a full-scale review of the Education Department’s office of Federal Student Aid, restructuring senior leader reporting protocols and the creation of a new IT innovation team to support the organization’s digital overhaul. 

“We need to be more student-centered in all that we do, including [federal student aid] and we’re making some changes there to make sure that the services that we provide for our students provide access to higher education, not obstacles,” Cardona said Thursday at the Education Writers Association’s national seminar in Las Vegas.

The U.S. Department of Education designed a new FAFSA application in an effort to make it easier for students and parents to apply and be eligible for funding to pursue higher education. Typically, prospective students can begin filling out the forms in the fall, but for the 2024-2025 school year, the forms weren’t available until last January. After its launch, students reported glitches and outages. 


Richard Cordray, chief operating officer for the Federal Student Aid office, in April resigned from after the myriad problems plaguing the new application rollout. Part of Cardona’s modernization plan includes hiring Cordray’s replacement. Cardona wrote in his letter to department staff that the office’s next operations chief will have “extensive executive leadership experience” and an understanding of interconnected programs and services. 

Cardona also noted that an independent consulting firm will provide recommendations on the hire and on ways to improve the Federal Student Aid office. 

“This will enable FSA to achieve its objectives effectively and efficiently, including supporting students, families, borrowers, and schools,” Cardona wrote. “In addition to considering external recommendations, the changes will also include an immediate restructure of senior leader reporting protocols to increase outcome-based accountability.”

The Education Department is also seeking input from the Office of Inspector General and members of Congress for the modernization project, according to Cardona’s letter.

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