Rethinking Student Aid

Expand opportunities for those who face financial barriers to college enrollment and success, and increase both equity and efficiency of the federal investment in higher education.

About this Project

Financial barriers prevent many qualified low- and moderate-income high school graduates from enrolling in four-year colleges. And for those who do enroll, their degree completion rates are low compared to their more affluent peers. We need a more effective financial aid system to increase college access and completion.

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Our Progress

What We've Accomplished

Established the Rethinking Student Aid study group of policy experts, academic researchers and higher education professionals.

Released Fulfilling the Commitment, the culmination of two years of analysis, offering a set of comprehensive principles for reforming the federal student aid system.

Collected statements of support for the study group’s recommendations

A series of student aid policy roundtables on campuses across the nation to consider financial aid issues and the study group’s recommendations

“The Future of Student Financial Aid,” held at the Brown Center on Education Policy Event at Brookings, Washington, DC

March 2010 policy forum in Washington, DC

What We're Working On

Research with students and parents to examine their experiences with and perceptions about the federal financial aid system

Working with states to help them model the impact of determining eligibility for state-funded, need-based grants using less financial data

Study Group Members

Director, Institute on Education and the Economy and Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University
Professor of Economics Emerita, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY
Executive Director, North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority
Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management at UCLA
Associate Vice President/Admission and Financial Aid, Claremont McKenna College
Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy, University of Michigan
Director, Cornell Higher Education Research Institute (CHERI)
Professor of Education, Brown University
Professor of Education and Economics, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Professor of Education and Economics, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Associate Provost and Director of Scholarships and Student Aid, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Education Program Director, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
President, Rhodes College
Executive Director, Delta Cost Project

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Statement of support

“The College Board study group has provided a great service to the higher education community. Most of us have tried to improve the impossibly complex federal financial aid system by tinkering around the edges. Baum, McPherson and their colleagues have taken the right approach — to rethink the entire approach to financial aid. The changes in American higher education no longer fit the paradigm of the 1960s that continues to drive policy and practice today. It's time to move to a 21st-century system, and the study group has given us an exceptionally good first step to get us there.”


—David Longanecker, President, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)

Read additional statements of support.