Friday, March 13, 2009

The "last dollar" approach to college affordability

The Chamber's postsecondary report calls for a "major overhaul" of state financial aid policies. It suggests an intriguing "shared responsibility approach:
  • Students contribute an amount equivalent to minimum wage earnings from 40-hour summer jobs and 10 to 15 hours of school year employment.
  • Students’ families contribute the family contribution determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Federal Pell grants contribute added resources for eligible students.
  • State aid covers the remaining costs of attending a public institution.
A brilliant feature in that plan is that the state pays the "last dollar." Whoever pays the final amount will ask why costs keep going up. Right now, students and parents don't get many answers, but if that bill shifts to the legislature, I think we'd quickly see a more meaningful discussion of where the money goes and how the price tag can be reduced.

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