By Rae Roca
Have you ever tried to have a serious conversation in a room filled with a lot of people and a lot of very different ideas … all talking at once? It’s nearly impossible to get any clear points across, much less agree on any real solutions.
That’s what recent conversations about the cost of college sound like – lots of chatter, not enough clear ideas rising to the top, and never enough young people in the room.
Thankfully, a recent report from Young Invincibles cuts right through the noise to blast the young person’s message on college loud and clear. We gathered feedback from thousands of students and non-students across the country on their experiences with the federal financial aid system. We analyzed the information and came up with some great (we think) ideas to help reform federal financial aid – loans, Pell grants, work study, etc. – for the better!
What we found:
- Young people, particularly students, support investments in federal financial aid, even in the face of federal deficits. Three-quarters of folks we spoke with opposed cutting Pell Grants in order to reduce the deficit.
- About 40% of high debt borrowers said they never receiving loan counseling.
- Students and student leaders like when their schools and connect them to jobs and support measures that would strengthen that connection.
Based on these and other facts about student loans, we came up with some fixes:
- Fund Pell Grants, protecting an important investment that gives low-income students access to college.
- Give more meaningful work experience through federal work study (duh).
- Make it simple. Overhaul the current student loan system with a single, simple federal student loan; provide automatic enrollment into a repayment system based on income earned, not amount owed, as a way to insure against a tough economy.
- Rethink and simplify tax incentives for higher education, including redirecting some tax breaks to private colleges to fund Pell.
Check out the full report here.
What are some ways you wish you could reform financial aid? Share them and earn a chance to win $500 towards books or your loan payment here.