Federal Policy Priorities

National College Access Network members know that students who apply for financial aid and receive federal grants are much more likely to enroll in and graduate from college, especially the low-income students we support. But to best do that, we need equitable, practical solutions to financing higher education. Policymakers at the local, state and national levels should work toward three immediate policy improvements to cut the red tape, provide the green dollars and make college an affordable reality for all American families. 

Policies That Make a Difference

Fix FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is riddled with complications that can disproportionately affect low-income students who lack access to technology or informed mentors. It’s time to #FixFAFSA. Policymakers should:

a. Simplify the FSA ID
b. Eliminate unnecessary questions
c. Expand the number of IRS Data Retrieval Tool users
d. Decrease verification

Keep the promise of the Pell Grant program: The cornerstone of the federal student aid program, the Pell Grant, has not kept up with the cost of higher education. Additionally, although the grants provide crucial support for 7.6 million students each year, Congress has not scheduled a funding increase beyond 2017. Policymakers should:

a. Tie the Pell Grant to cost of inflation so dollars grow as the economy grows
b. Fund the Pell Grant program with mandatory spending

Provide work opportunities to low-income students who want them: Federal Work-Study can help reduce the overall debt burden and help students learn how to balance work and school, but the program has limitations. Policymakers should:

a. Make the funds available to those students who need it most
b. Expand the public-private partnership to serve more students

Priorities for the Higher Education Act Reauthorization

Congress last reauthorized the Higher Education Act, the law with primary responsibility for determining the federal role in higher education, in 2008. A decade late, both the House of Representatives and the Senate are working to renew this law. NCAN, through input from its membership and oversight of its Board of Directors, has developed the following priorities and participated in the conversation in the following ways:

Priorities for Higher Education Act Reauthorization - Submitted to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in response to an open call for request, February 23, 2018.

NCAN Member Testifies at Senate Hearing on Aid Simplification - Blog post covering NCAN Member uAspire's testimony to the U.S. Senate, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on financial aid simplification. 

Bipartisan Senate Hearing Finds Agreement on Need to #FixFAFSA - Blog post covering the U.S. Senate, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on FAFSA simplification. Also see NCAN's brief submitted to the Congressional record at the hearing. 

Formal Response to PROSPER Act - Letter sent to the U.S. House of Representatives Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) in response to her proposal to reauthorize HEA.

NCAN Blog Series on the Prosper Act: