The trillion dollar question: Reinventing student financial aid for the 21st century
Funding for federal student aid programs was first authorized in the 1960s and 1970s and has increased dramatically to keep up with the skyrocketing costs of college. Yet, despite this increased aid, negative patterns of inequalities in college attendance, low completion rates, and high student debt continue.
Effectiveness of financial aid examined
It’s become clear that a new approach might be needed: one that focuses on college affordability and access. The American Enterprise Institute recently released several research papers addressing the issue of financial aid reform and how the government can help more students afford college, stay in school, and graduate without enormous student debt.
As the government debates how to best meet the needs of college students, it needs to examine what financial aid programs have been working and what can be improved. The Institute’s papers attempt to help the government answer “The Trillion-Dollar Question”: how to reinvent the financial aid system to suit today’s (and future) college students.
Financial aid to suit today’s students
The Institute examines the history of the Pell Grant and other federal spending programs, as well as the circumstances that led to current government policies on financial aid.
In addition, the papers hypothesize how technology and social media can be used to help improve students’ access to financial aid and give them a better understanding of the financial aid process.
Holding colleges accountable
These papers serve as a great tool for discussing how the current financial aid system can changed to better provide students with the tools, knowledge, and aid to make college accessible and affordable.
We hope that the government will use these findings to reform the financial aid system and stop throwing money at the problem. Instead, the government must focus on holding colleges accountable for keeping costs low enough for students of all socio-economic backgrounds to have the change to attend–and to make sure students are provided with the support they need to succeed and graduate from college.