State Financial Aid in the Twenty-First Century

March 17, 2015

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Jonathan Turk, graduate research associate for ACE’s Center for Policy Research and Strategy, looks at Tuesday’s Annual Meeting session on the current state of financial aid.

Financial aid is a topic on the minds of not only students and families, but also institutional leaders and state policymakers.

State and federal student financial aid programs were established largely to increase access to higher education for the neediest students. However, due to their political popularity, many state and federal aid programs have been established or expanded to serve more middle-income families.

In this session, panelists challenged leaders to consider not only state appropriations and tuition, but also state student financial aid as an integral and interrelated component of the public finance of higher education. To meet the goals of expanded college access and increased completion, states will need to invest significant dollars in student and institutional aid.

However, both policymakers and institutional leaders will need to reconsider the current higher education finance system in order to maximize efficiency.

Jane Wellman, senior advisor at the College Access Foundation of California, emphasized the need to think differently about higher education finance. Ultimately, the panel agreed that more robust budgeting and accounting systems are needed to maximize limited public resources.

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