Here's Your Grant Money, College Students. Don't Spend It All In One Place.

"Imagine a would-be college student filling out just one financial-aid form and then being given her allotted Pell Grant money automatically each semester until graduation," National Journal reports.

"That, in principle, is what House Republicans would like to see happen as they update the current federal higher-education law. It is the most far-reaching proposal on their wish list of ideas to simplify and streamline the all-too-vexing college financing system. …

The proposal also could give incentives to students to finish college studies early. They could use the flexible Pell Grant to pay for summer courses, which they cannot do now.

There are ways to do that without exhausting all the grant money in one year. Last year, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators proposed a 'Pell Well' where students could 'draw' funds as needed, with some limits like prorated payments if they didn't take a full slate of classes. Those payments would be available until they graduate or their six-year entitlements ran out. …

Republicans cited the IHEP study in their policy primer, saying they want to make the financial-aid application process a lot simpler. Why do we need three types of federal loans when one will suffice? Why must a student reapply for a Pell Grant every year and wait until the fall to get their money when they could be taking summer classes?

These questions are music to the ears of college-access advocates, who have sought some of these changes for years. 'I think it's great that they laid that out there as a marker,' says Megan McClean, federal relations and policy director for NASFAA. 

Of course, there is a 'but.'

'We support the spirit of simplification. Like all policy things, there are some things that we need to think through. There is so much right now that goes into the formula. There is a possibility of things becoming too simple,' McClean says. 'How do we make sure the money's really going to the people it should be going to?'"

NASFAA's "Financial Aid in the News" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.