Higher Education Consortium Identifies Critical Pell Grant, Federal Work-Study Reforms

By Charlotte Etier, Research Analyst 

A coalition of higher education groups last week identified key reforms necessary to ensure the Pell Grant and Federal Work-Study (FWS) programs meet the needs of America’s growing population of low-income, post-traditional, and underrepresented students.

The report, “The Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery (RADD) Consortium for the Reform of Federal Student Aid Grants and Work-Study: Our Agenda for Reform,” was drafted by: 

  • CLASP’s Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success, 
  • Excelencia in Education, 
  • The College Board, 
  • The National Urban League, and 
  • The Committee for Economic Development. 

These groups are part of a RADD consortium focused on the reform of federal student aid grants and work-study, similar to NASFAA’s RADD efforts on income-based repayment and simplifying the financial aid process. RADD is a project funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The paper bases its recommendations on the new “traditional” student who is not full-time, aged 18- to 24-year-old, and transitioning directly from high school to a four-year college. Rather, these students are independent, older, more likely to work more than 20 hours per week, and more likely to be parents while completing their undergraduate education. Based on this shift, the consortium brought together multiple stakeholders to determine what policy opportunities for a re-designed student aid system could help all students, and specifically post-traditional students, afford and complete college. 

The group tried to develop recommendations that would:

  1. Increase educational and economic opportunity for all students, prioritizing low-income and underrepresented students.
  2. Provide federal aid as clearly, transparently, and simply as possible.
  3. Be based on evidence of demonstrated effectiveness in serving low-income, disadvantaged students.
  4. Ensure that federal grant aid is adequate to make completion of a postsecondary educational program financially possible for all qualified students.
  5. Take a comprehensive approach to addressing all financial and non-financial barriers.
  6. Hold institutions receiving federal funding reasonably accountable for keeping college affordable and strengthening student success. 

Some major reforms identified include: 

  • Simplify the Pell Grant Application Process to include only Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and number of exemptions (family size) from federal income tax forms.
  • Develop early-awareness materials for students and families by allowing families to check a box on their IRS form each year that gives the IRS permission to release information to the Department of Education, who would then send students and families information about paying for college and financial aid eligibility.
  • Revisit the current FWS allocation formula to reflect the demographic distribution of needy students across the country and align FWS placements with students’ field of study. 

NASFAA has put forth recommendations on many of these areas including revisiting the current FWS allocation formula through our Campus-Based Aid Allocation Task Force report, and early-awareness for students and families through our RADD Round III consortium with the National College Access Network and the Education Trust to simplify the financial aid process and increase access and success. NASFAA’S most recent report, “Great Expectations: Implications of Implementing Prior-prior Year Income Data for the FAFSA,” proposes reforms that allow for FAFSA completion as early as September 1 of a student’s senior year in high school. Additional reports from this consortium will be released throughout the summer and fall of 2015, and NASFAA will continue to share them with members as they are made available.


Publication Date: 6/2/2015

Wilson M | 6/2/2015 10:54:00 AM

We have students that their parents are married and they filed with an incorrect filing status
(i.e. Single, HoH) when they should have either filed MFJ or MFS. Parents have amended their taxes to reflect their correct filing status. How will PPY affect theses students? Does that mean that Parents would have to amend their PPY tax Return to correct their filing status?

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