- College Readiness & Access
- Affordability & Financial Aid
- College Admission & Completion
- Affinity Network
- Get Involved
Simplifying State Aid Processes
Friday, October 23, 2009
The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center’s state grant simplification study seeks to help participating states understand the potential effects of a streamlined federal financial aid system on the way they receive application data and determine the recipients of their grant dollars. A primary objective will be to assist states in aligning their aid systems with the federal aid system, allowing more students access to the aid they need along with helpful information far in advance of when they are ready to start college.
For tens of thousands of students, one of the biggest barriers to a college education is figuring out how to apply for and receive financial aid. The process can be complicated and cumbersome, and many who lack adequate support from a knowledgeable professional simply give up. Adding to its previous body of work related to federal student aid, the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center is now actively engaged in identifying ways to simplify the financial aid application process for state grants, thanks to a $215,000 grant received from Lumina Foundation for Education, a private foundation committed to ensuring that 60 percent of Americans are college-educated by 2025.
Just a year after the College Board released Fulfilling the Commitment: Recommendations for Reforming Federal Student Aid, the Obama administration is working with the IRS to streamline the federal aid application system. As those improvements unfold, they will touch state application processes and programs, along with the students they serve.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to work with states to coordinate their efforts to make financial aid more accessible to students with similar efforts by the federal government,” said Sandy Baum, an independent policy analyst for the College Board who is leading this project. “As the application process for federal aid becomes simpler, it is important for states to think carefully about how to maintain the integrity of their grant programs while not introducing complexity for students.
"The funding we have received from Lumina Foundation," Baum added, "will make it possible for us to work with representatives from state legislatures, state grant organizations and governors' offices to coordinate their efforts and make state grant programs as effective as possible.”
The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center’s state grant simplification project is working quickly and directly with the State Higher Education Executive Officers, along with an advisory committee including state representatives, state policy experts and members of the Rethinking Student Aid study group. The committee will identify six or more pilot states to participate in the study, which will include simulations of the impact of potential formula changes on state grant allocations, analysis of required software modifications and development of exemplary processes. The Center will produce a final report that includes an inventory of state grant programs, additional information about each of the pilot states and guidance about how best to effectively simplify the financial aid system at the state level.