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January 30, 2013—A “student risk index,” redefinition of institutional eligibility to participate in the Pell Grant and student loan programs, and requiring “satisfactory academic progress” for continued use of veteran’s benefits and tax benefits by students and families are among a list of actions proposed in a new staff paper on the future of federal financial aid programs released today by A۰P۰L۰U.
The paper, Federal Student Aid: Access and Completion, was developed with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which last fall awarded $3.6 million in grants to 16 non-profit organizations to investigate ideas for improving federal student aid as part of its Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery (RADD) project.
“Federal investment in financial aid programs has risen dramatically over the past decade while student enrollment also continues to increase,” said A۰P۰L۰U President Peter McPherson. “For the near future, it will be a struggle to get commensurate increases in federal investment in student aid programs. Tight budgets will provoke program changes, and either the academic community can help design them or await the verdicts of Congressional budget fights.”
Michael Tanner, A۰P۰L۰U chief academic officer and vice president and project leader, said: “For the sake of the students, the structure of federal financial aid programs must foster achievement as well as access. Too many aid recipients currently do not complete a meaningful degree or certificate that improves their lives and career prospects. This is bad for the nation and devastating for the individual. Our paper offers some common sense approaches with a focus on access and success for all students.”
In the paper, A۰P۰L۰U discusses the development of a “student risk index” which would help the U.S. Department of Education and others to acknowledge and take into consideration the effects of the risk characteristics of the students enrolled in a particular college or university. Institutions serving many students from disadvantaged backgrounds often feel they do not get the recognition they deserve for focusing on more diverse and mobile student cohorts.
A۰P۰L۰U also discusses redefining institutional eligibility for the Pell Grant and student loan programs. A۰P۰L۰U suggests a loss or reduction of institutional eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs if either the student loan repayment rate falls below a critical threshold or the three-year cohort default rate goes above a defined threshold. These determinations would be adjusted by both the Student Risk Index and economic cycles.
In addition, A۰P۰L۰U suggests connecting the use of veteran’s benefits and eligibility for education-related tax benefits to a student making “satisfactory academic progress,” similar to the current practice for participants in the Pell Grant and student loan programs.
The recommendations were developed using three guiding principles: balance admissions selectivity, adjust for student risk in assessing institutional performance and student outcomes, and insist on satisfactory academic progress for continued student eligibility.
Other recommendations in the thought paper include:
Other organizations receiving grants include: Alliance for Excellent Education, Center for Law & Social Policy (CLASP), Committee for Economic Development, Excellence in Education, HCM Strategists, Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), National College Access Network (NCAN), New America Foundation (NAF), The Education Trust, The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce, and Young Invincible.
:: Federal Student Aid: Access and Completion and Appendix
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