College Student Aid at Risk in Congress

"The landscape of federal support for college students would change dramatically under legislation moving through the House of Representatives. While some new efforts would emerge, several existing sources of aid would be eliminated, with low-income students facing the greatest risks," John Manning writes for Minnesota Private Colleges.  

"The higher ed committee in the House passed a bill in December to reauthorize the Higher Education Act that is heading to the full House for approval in the coming weeks, said Sarah Flanagan, vice president for government relations and policy development at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Weighing in at more than 500 pages, the bill includes a host of provisions, each with fans and foes. But taking a step back to look at the bill’s overall impact, Flanagan is concerned. The bottom line, she said, is that the legislation would make college more expensive for more students.

A significant source of worry is the proposed elimination of one of the federal grant programs that targets the neediest students, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) program. The Pell Grant program is the larger source of need-based aid that doesn’t have to be repaid. SEOG grants are a source of additional support for some Pell recipients who have the greatest financial need — with awards that average around $700, explained Megan Coval, vice president of policy and federal relations at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

'A lot of program elimination is happening in this bill,' Coval said. 'Some of it might be funneled into other programs, but other funds are going to broader national deficit reduction. That’s a concern for us, and other higher ed associations. If Congress wants to talk about streamlining and simplifying, that’s fair. But what we don’t want to do is cut and fail to redirect money into federal student aid programs in other ways.'

In Minnesota, 25,000 college students receive a total of $16.5 million in SEOG grants that would be eliminated under the House committee’s bill."

NASFAA's "Headlines" 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.


Publication Date: 1/31/2018

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