Alexander Says Federal Student Aid System Needs To Be Simplified, More Effective

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander Thursday day said that the federal student aid system needs to be simplified and made more effective. 

“There is a bipartisan consensus that students looking for federal financial aid to go to college need a much simpler system so that it is not a barrier to college for the very students the aid is intended to help,” said Senator Alexander. "

The committee on Thursday held its second hearing this Congress on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, to examine proposals to simplify federal financial aid, which currently consists of two grant programs, five loan programs, and nine repayment plans.  

“This committee began thinking about reauthorizing the Higher Education Act four and a half years ago,” Senator Alexander said. “Since then, we have had 18 hearings, which have produced a large number of mostly bipartisan proposals, ranging from simplifying student aid to improving the accreditation system.” 

Senator Alexander continued: “The consensus that I see emerging is student focused: Simpler, more effective regulations to make it easier for students to pay for college and to pay back their loans; reducing red tape so administrators can spend more time and money on students; making sure a degree is worth the time and money students spend to earn it; and helping colleges keep students safe on campus.

“Today’s hearing is to see if we can reach a result on making a more effective system of grants, loans and repayments plans. This is a complicated system for students, which leads to confusion about the aid and repayment options they are eligible for and ultimately makes it harder for them to get that aid.

“The federal financial aid system is so complex that even those in the higher education system can have trouble navigating it. At a roundtable at the University of Tennessee – Martin, a Tennessee college president told me it took him months to figure out how to help his daughter pay off her federal student loans in full, even with the money in hand.” 

The committee met on Nov. 28 to examine proposals to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The committee will meet next Thursday, Jan. 25, to look at ways to encourage institutions to move beyond the traditional classroom mold to meet the needs of all students 

Senator Alexander’s full prepared remarks are here.

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