The federal government must double down on grants to low-income students and dramatically simplify the system of student loans, says a new report by the non-partisan New America Foundation.
The report, released on Tuesday, lays out more than 30 recommendations for fixing the nation’s increasingly strained system of paying for college, chief among them a more substantial and permanent investment in direct aid to students through Pell grants. The government should make the funding for the Pell program an entitlement in the federal budget, shielding it from annual wrangling, and should boost the maximum amount of individual grants, the report says.
It also proposes that the government create a system of incentives aimed at realigning how college use institutional aid dollars: Those with few low-income students and high tuition after discounts would be required to match a portion of Pell dollars with institutional aid; schools with many low-income students that meet a required graduation rate would get bonuses.
The New America Foundation’s report was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of a larger initiative to explore policy recommendations on ways to restructure and reform the financial aid system.