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Policymakers and Educators Define Unfinished Agenda for Improving Federal Student Aid
Thursday, April 22, 2010
From left: David Longanecker, President, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education; Sandy Baum, Independent Policy Analyst for The College Board
The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center and its diverse team of researchers, policy experts and higher education professionals demonstrated their continued commitment to creating a simpler, more effective federal student aid system at the Rethinking Student Aid Policy Forum on March 18, 2010, in Washington, D.C.
About 100 attendees, including policymakers, association leaders, K–12 and higher ed administrators and students, gathered to discuss the challenges of paying for college and how to maximize the effectiveness of the more than $116 billion in federal student aid that is available each year.
Speakers included Sandy Baum, independent policy analyst for the College Board and professor emerita of economics at Skidmore College and Michael McPherson, president, Spencer Foundation — co-chairs of the Rethinking Student Aid study group. Robert Shireman, deputy under secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, was the luncheon speaker. Other highly respected policy experts and educators led discussions on innovative approaches to college savings, student loan policy, and recommendations for how federal student aid could address gaps in retention and graduation rates.
The Rethinking Student Aid (RSA) study group, which was formed to develop recommendations for policy reform of the current federal financial aid system, discussed the significant progress the administration had made toward implementing policy change over the last 18 months.
The RSA group shared positive news about the Obama Administration’s implementation of steps to simplify the federal financial aid application and increase support for Pell Grant funding. Additionally, Congress continues to consider ways to make the eligibility process for federal student aid more predictable.
However, there is still much work to be done. Currently, students miss out on college altogether because they think they can’t afford higher education or they don’t understand how to apply for financial aid. The current system is neither transparent nor predictable, and students from low-income backgrounds need specific information earlier about how to pay for college.
Although the RSA study group has completed its work and documented its research, findings and recommendations in a final report, Fulfilling the Commitment: Recommendations for Reforming Federal Student Aid, the College Board will continue efforts to address the need for financial aid reform.
The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center has begun to conduct research on parents’ and students’ views on paying for college.