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ERIC Number: ED544223
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Feb
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Reforming Student Aid: How to Simplify Tax Aid and Use Performance Metrics to Improve College Choices and Completion
Reimherr, Patrick; Harmon, Tim; Strawn, Julie; Choitz, Vickie
Center for Law and Social Policy, Inc. (CLASP)
Over the last three decades, college costs have increased nearly four times faster than median family income. Financial aid has not filled the growing gap, and the share of college costs not covered by financial aid or what the family is expected to contribute has risen sharply. Rising costs and rising debt make college a riskier investment for students and families, who lack the information they need to shop around for colleges and programs of study that represent the best value in terms of cost, completion rates, and employment and earnings (or further education) after graduation. Beyond increasing time to degree, financial pressure to work more while in college--and consequently take fewer classes at a time--also affects whether students ultimately complete a certificate or degree program and earn a credential. Some financial aid programs have coupled grant aid with other interventions (e.g., innovations in course delivery, curriculum, or instruction; learning communities; financial incentives; extra academic support and advising; emergency transportation or child care help) to address these obstacles. Early research suggests that such multifaceted approaches may be even more effective than grant aid alone (Scrivener, Weiss and Sommo 2012; Deming and Dynarski 2009; Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges 2011). The Center for Law and Social Policy, Inc. (CLASP) recognizes that changes to federal student aid should not be proposed lightly, especially at a time when policymakers are focused on budget austerity rather than on the nation's linked college affordability and completion challenges. Accordingly, CLASP has developed principles for guiding student aid reform choices: (1) The goal of federal higher education policy should be to increase educational and economic opportunity for all students, with a priority for low income, underrepresented populations who cannot access and afford postsecondary education without federal assistance; (2) Federal student financial aid reforms should preserve--and even enhance--the original purpose of these programs: to increase access. Reforms should be fair and recognize the diversity of today's students; (3) Any reforms should make federal student aid more effective, more efficient, and simpler; and (4) In looking forward, CLASP strongly believes that all policy reform proposals must pass a high bar before being moved forward for legislative or executive action. In CLASP's view, reform proposals should be "evidence-based," with data backing the need for change and showing that proposed changes will help, not hurt, needy students; "modeled," to show clearly any redistributive effects among students and families; and "piloted," to understand the actual effects on students and institutions before major changes are scaled up. Proposals for reform and simplification of student aid are presented under each of these principals. (Contains 3 figures.)
Center for Law and Social Policy. 1015 15th Street NW Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-906-8000; Fax: 202-842-2885; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: Administrators; Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Pell Grant Program