Reinventing Student Aid: A New Book

The trillion dollar question: Reinventing student financial aid for the 21st century


Andrew P. Kelly and Sara Goldrick-Rab

 For more than half a century, student financial aid programs have played a crucial role in increasing the number of Americans with access to a college education. Pell Grants, student loans, and G.I. Bill benefits have helped make America one of the most educated nations in the world. But despite increased spending on financial aid programs, completion rates remain stagnant. Moreover, college tuition growth has eaten away at the purchasing power of grant programs and has saddled students and families with nearly $1 trillion in debt.

Meanwhile, in an effort to address affordability concerns, policymakers have tinkered around the edges by increasing maximum grant awards and tweaking student loan interest rates. This approach assumes that policies designed in the 1970s are still well-suited to serve the needs of today’s students. But the higher education landscape has changed, and our financial aid tools must change with it.

In an effort to set a new course for financial aid reform, AEI’s Andrew P. Kelly and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Sara Goldrick-Rab have released new research that identifies opportunities for innovation in aid policy and program design. The papers, featuring America’s foremost thinkers on financial aid policy, offer new ideas and recommendations on how to reform grant programs, student loans, and the financial aid application process.


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