Students Favor Free College, Oppose Admissions Preferences

"Politicians often purport to represent the interests of students when they propose education policies. So do college leaders and associations when they take stands in response. But do they truly know what students want and need?," Inside Higher Ed reports. 

..."More than half of students surveyed selected academic scholarships or federal student loans as ways they are financing their college education, and nearly half are using their own savings or current earnings. So strong support for legislation to make paying for college easier is not surprising.

'We as a community are right to be focusing efforts on our students financing their education,' says Megan Coval, vice president of policy and federal relations at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Response to this question, she adds, 'really highlights the importance and urgency of that.'

Students over all are more supportive of free community college compared to free four-year college proposals -- but both are desirable.

'It makes sense to me that students would be interested in the federal government providing more than just K-12 education,' says Coval."

..."Policies involving Pell Grant expansion seem like a good idea to most students, even though the numbers expressing strong support are lower than for free college and loan forgiveness. Students support, at least somewhat, Pell Grants for more types of vocational programs (95 percent), for DACA students (89 percent) and for students who are incarcerated (84 percent).

'I thought it was really impressive to see those numbers,' says Coval. 'Students answering the question presumably aren’t in those situations, so they see the Pell Grant as what it was meant to be, a help for lowest-income students. That’s a recognition that this is an important gateway program.'"

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Publication Date: 7/20/2021

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