Widener University suspends May 1 “Decision Day” deadline

A photo of Old Main with a blue and gold banner in the foreground that reads "Pride"
STORY UPDATE: Widener University has set June 1, 2024 as its new decision day deadline. (Updated April 22, 2024)

Widener University announced today it has suspended its plans to observe the May 1 deadline for incoming fall 2024 students to commit their choice to attend the university. The decision was made in light of a series of technical complications associated with U.S. Department of Education’s processing of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA.

Government delays mean FAFSA data will not be sent to colleges and universities until March – five to six months later than usual. Under this delayed time frame, higher education institutions like Widener will not have key financial information needed to prepare financial aid packages for prospective students so they may weigh their options over a reasonable amount of time before a decision is due. In addition, the government has postponed the ability for students and families to adjust or correct their FAFSA forms until at least mid-March, adding to the timing setbacks.

The FAFSA delays are unique to applications for fall 2024 enrollment. Congress mandated significant changes to the process that are now being introduced amid unexpected impediments.

“These delays have created a lot of stress for college-bound students in the class of 2024, particularly in light of the traditional May 1 national college decision day deadline by which students are asked to commit to their college of choice,” said Widener Vice President for Enrollment, Joseph Howard. “We don’t want Widener’s deadlines to add anxiety to this process. Student well-being is central to our culture of belonging.”

Howard said that asking students and their families to make a life-changing decision with only a few short weeks, or days, of notice was not reasonable. The university suspended the May 1 deadline for the upcoming academic year for full-time, first-time undergraduate students. Widener will assess whether a new deadline is necessary, after having more information from the Department of Education, and – importantly – after giving applicants sufficient notice.

In the meantime, staff at the university are working behind the scenes, preparing to expedite financial aid offers when the information becomes available. For now, the university encouraged students interested in Widener to:

Widener President Stacey Robertson, Ph.D., joined Howard in calling on other area higher education institutions to follow Widener’s lead.  

“College is an important investment for many families and we know this year’s search process has been incredibly frustrating,” Robertson said. “And this is on top of the lingering effects of COVID. We encourage other colleges and universities to join us, and give applicants the time they need to make this decision.”