Recommendations to Sustain and Strengthen Higher Education Include Providing More COVID Relief Funding, Doubling Pell Grant, and Curbing Indebtedness
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Erin Powers
Director of Marketing & Communications
WASHINGTON, DC, NOV. 23, 2020 — As President-elect Joe Biden and a new Congress prepare to take office in January amid a global pandemic, the importance of investing in and strengthening the nation’s postsecondary education system is of paramount importance. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated issues related to affordability and transparency, and racial disparities in college access and attainment are becoming more stark than ever, but the national emergency also presents an opportunity for the new administration to examine and re-evaluate our country’s higher education policies.
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) today released a set of priorities outlining actions the new president and new Congress should take to refocus, reinvest in, and recalibrate our country’s policies around postsecondary education. The brief explains that robust, streamlined student aid policy must play a central role in this effort and calls on the incoming Biden administration and 117th Congress to:
Deliver additional COVID-19 relief to students and institutions
Strengthen the Federal Pell Grant Program
Simplify the federal financial aid application process
Curb student indebtedness and simplify repayment
Enhance student aid delivery
Data show students who persist in higher education are more likely to be employed, tax-paying, productive members of society. The consequences of not pursuing a degree or credential can be devastating, not just for students, but for the country on a grander scale. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, provided nearly $14 billion for higher education students and institutions, which was a lifeline for many struggling students and institutions. But NASFAA asserts that an additional $120 billion is needed to support students and help institutions safely reopen the pandemic. NASFAA also calls for the extension of the existing borrower relief benefits — automatic payment suspension and zero interest rate — that are set to expire Dec. 31, 2020.
The brief shines a spotlight on the Federal Pell Grant Program, pointing out that the current maximum annual award is increasingly insufficient to move the needle on college access, leaving low-income students to borrow high amounts, or worse yet, not attend postsecondary education at all. NASFAA calls on the Biden administration and Congress to make a substantial investment in the program by doubling the maximum Pell Grant.
"We are eight years overdue in reauthorizing the Higher Education Act and amid one of the greatest crises our nation's postsecondary system has ever faced. That, combined with a new administration and Congress, presents both a unique and urgent window of opportunity for change," said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. "There must be sound policies in place to ensure current students have the support they need to access and find success in their postsecondary academic pursuits. A fair, equitable student aid system is not just sound public policy, it is also a form of racial and social justice. We look forward to working with the new administration and 117th Congress to strengthen, streamline and reinvest in federal student aid policies."
To speak with a NASFAA spokesperson about these policy priorities, email Director of Marketing and Communications Erin Powers.
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 28,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every 10 undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit www.nasfaa.org.
Publication Date: 11/23/2020