Read PDF The Lowering of Higher Education in America: Why Financial Aid Should Be Based on Student Performance

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Contents

  1. How to improve the quality of higher education (essay)
  2. Main navigation
  3. Improving the Quality of Education
  4. Unkept Promises: State Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Access and Equity
  5. It Isn’t Working—Why Not?

It is commonly granted in the form of non subsidized loans from the government referred to as the Direct Loan program which includes unsubsidized Stafford and Grad PLUS loans in which interest begins accruing while the student is in school. Packages could include a mix of federal, state, institutional, and private aid. Student loans are either from the federal government or from private entities, like financial institutions or banks. The MPN is the legal document you must sign in order to receive a federal student loan.

By signing, you are agreeing to repay the loan according to the terms and conditions.


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If you attended college in the United States, you may be familiar with the FAFSA but graduate financial aid is packaged very differently from undergraduate financial aid. Regardless of your income or assets, you may qualify for non-need based financial aid. A key difference is that the interest may not be deferred. That said, you can still get a guaranteed loan with a competitive interest rate.

All grad school applicants are considered independent, so you are already considered higher need.

How to improve the quality of higher education (essay)

Most graduate students qualify for federal student loans through the Direct Loans program, though there is a limit to how much you can borrow in a year. Everything from staff roles, steps for applying, and the opportunity to adjust your financial aid package may differ from school to school. Know your contacts and make connections early.

Schools also put together their financial aid packages differently. Some may cover only what the EFC has determined as your need, while others will consider aid based on the full cost of attending. Additionally some financial aid offices may only be in charge of granting need-based aid, whereas the admissions office awards merit-based aid available only to students in your program. Merit-based aid is awarded on institutionally set criteria since it is private funding from the university. It is important to understand the variations in financial aid practice among schools so that you can reduce any frustrations and assumptions about the process.

You can appeal your package for a variety of reasons including but not limited to, you want less of a certain loan, e. To appeal, the best approach is to get in touch with the financial aid office as soon as possible. When you speak with financial aid, be sure to thank them for the award, present your situation, and ask them what, if any, options there are to improve your award. If there is not much wiggle room for changing your financial aid package, you may be put on a waitlist for federal work-study if it was not already awarded to you.

Keep in mind that it might take time for the financial aid office to reconsider your offer. Stay proactive but make sure to also provide adequate time for them to address any changes. With that, it is smart to research and apply for as much independent funding, in the form of grants, fellowships, and scholarships from sources outside of the university as you can. These programs are typically managed through Human Resources and the award amount is completely determined by the company. In that case, you would be able to claim a deduction. The Commonwealth will benefit from this work, and I am certain other states will as well.

Mellon Foundation. It arises out of a concern that public higher education, especially since the Great Recession that began in , has not been able to produce a sufficient number of college graduates to satisfy regional and national needs for a better educated workforce, nor to function effectively as an accessible and affordable vehicle for less advantaged citizens to achieve economic and social mobility.

In our view, Virginia represents an ideal setting to determine the extent to which this concern is supported by the evidence and, if so, what options are available for both the public institutions and the states that support them to do a better job of meeting these public responsibilities. We are grateful to the Board and staff of SCHEV for their commitment to this project and for their willingness to assemble the very large database that we used to analyze these questions.

Mellon Foundation for its support for this project. This study documents funding shifts for public higher education following the Great Recession and analyzes how different groups of institutions in Virginia have responded to those shifts. Our hypothesis is that the shift from a funding model largely supported by state appropriations to one primarily dependent on tuition revenue has made it more difficult for young people to pursue, and ultimately secure, a college degree at public institutions in Virginia. Moreover, to the extent that need-based financial aid programs in those institutions have not kept pace with rising student charges, we posit that students who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds have been disproportionately affected.

We chose to study Virginia because of the interest of the leadership of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia SCHEV in better understanding these issues, the very rich database that SCHEV has built over time, and the similarities that its challenges hold to those of other states.

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As this report will detail, we found significant evidence that public higher education in Virginia is falling well short in its efforts to meet broader national goals of increasing overall educational attainment and narrowing the gaps that exist in educational levels between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Declining state appropriations and increasing reliance on tuition revenue have substantially increased the cost of public higher education to Virginia students, and the trend has accelerated since the Great Recession that began in Rising costs have deterred students from remaining in college and completing their degrees, and the lowest-income students have been hit the hardest.

These results are particularly discouraging given that public higher education as a whole in Virginia — as in most states — was already falling well short of achieving these goals even before the latest declines in state support and increases in tuition came into effect.


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This study measures the degree to which these trends have worsened since the Great Recession and raises the alarm about what the future will be like if nothing is done to turn the present situation around. The central mission of public higher education in this country is to educate and prepare young adults to assume productive roles in a modern workforce, contribute to our national and regional economic competitiveness, strengthen our communities and nation as educated and caring citizens, and live enriching lives. As far back as the Morrill Act of which created our system of state-supported land grant universities , these goals have been the hallmark of American public higher education.

In recent years, the first goal of increasing the number of college graduates in the U. Most notably, in , President Obama proposed that by America would once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. The second goal of reducing the opportunity gap between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds is also critical, both in itself and as a means to increase overall educational attainment in our society. Starting with the GI Bill of the post-World War II era and the original Higher Education Act of , the goal of equalizing opportunity has received broad public endorsement at the national, state, and local levels.

Public colleges and universities are critically important in that effort, as they educate a large majority of low- and middle-income students. Notwithstanding this high-level attention, progress on both of these goals remains discouragingly slow. Affordability and access to higher education are challenges for most public institutions, and states and institutions wrestle annually with the specific challenges associated with setting tuition and fees and providing adequate funding for need-based financial aid programs.

In , for the first time since the turn of the century, tuition as a share of total revenue surpassed the share associated with state funding for public institutions nationwide. Unfortunately, despite significant efforts on the part of many state and institutional leaders, not enough progress has been made to meet the goals of increasing the number of college graduates and decreasing the opportunity gap between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Significant reductions in state appropriations for higher education have made it difficult to support even current enrollment levels, with 49 states spending less per undergraduate in than before the Great Recession, and 28 states actually decreasing per-student funding by more than 25 percent since Similar financial patterns are evident in Virginia, which currently provides only about half as much support per student at public institutions as it did in Given that Virginia is also an economically and demographically diverse state with characteristics similar to the national average, we believe that the conclusions drawn from our analysis of financial trends and student outcomes in Virginia apply broadly to many other states and public institutions.

Improving the Quality of Education

Over the past decade and a half, there has been a dramatic shift in Virginia higher education financing away from state appropriations and toward tuition. As a result, nearly every public institution has had to become significantly more dependent on tuition revenue in order to pay for the resources they need, ranging from faculty salaries to financial aid see Section 2.

While decreases in state funding are not unprecedented, there are several factors that make the significant declines since the beginning of the Great Recession in particularly concerning; these include the severity of the most recent recession, the proximity and compounding nature of the last two recessions in and , and the large increases in enrollment that have placed additional pressures on state resources. Different institutions within Virginia have taken somewhat different approaches in responding to the challenges represented by the decline in public funding, but tuition levels have nevertheless gone up significantly for all institutions, while financial aid programs have generally not been able to keep pace.

Based on our analysis of data for 1,, students who enrolled in a Virginia public institution between the and academic years, net costs at four-year public institutions have increased at rates well above inflation for in-state, full-time, first-time freshmen from most socioeconomic groups since see Section 3. Between and , net costs grew 3.

Unkept Promises: State Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Access and Equity

It is especially worrying that, since , net costs have grown fastest for the lowest income students Table 1. At the same time that net costs have grown fastest for students from the lowest-income groups, we observed some troubling patterns in enrollment and outcomes for these students see Section 4. Second, even those students from lower-income families who do enroll in four-year institutions are less likely than their higher-income peers to remain enrolled, persist through, and graduate from those institutions, a gap that has endured throughout this entire time period.

Since the s, the first-year retention rate for students in the 1 st income quintile has consistently been about 11 percentage points lower than for their peers in the 5 th income quintile. Our analysis of the patterns of student achievement makes clear that increases in net costs have a statistically significant, negative effect on student success; the effect is largest for the poorest students. Finally, our analysis of the patterns of student achievement makes clear that increases in net costs have a statistically significant, negative effect on student success, and that the effect is largest for the poorest students see Section 6.

We also examined the relationship between net costs and student success using ordinary least squares specifications see Section 5.

Financial Aid for International Students Attending College in the United States

Although the effects of net costs estimated using these techniques are smaller and do not allow a causal inference, we still found statistically significant inverse relationships between net costs and outcomes in all specifications we examined — with the magnitudes largest for students from the lowest EFC quartile.

Analysis using other outcome measures, including the number of credits completed, progress towards a four-year degree, and the likelihood of graduating in four years, tells the same story.

enter site While there have not yet been significant absolute declines in retention and graduation rates in Virginia, our findings strongly suggest that the disproportionately large increases in net costs for low-income students will exacerbate disparities that already exist among different groups of students and eventually affect overall enrollment and success rates. Public colleges and universities in Virginia are facing considerable financial challenges from significant declines in state appropriations. These challenges have been exacerbated in recent years by a global recession that has simultaneously reduced state revenues and diminished family incomes.

First, the nature and depth of the latest recession led the state to reduce funding per student to historically low levels since , with few signs that funding will be restored in the near future. While some institutions have been better able to weather the recent budget cuts than others, and may have some capacity to deal with further cuts going forward, the evidence suggests that the ability of most institutions to serve their respective missions within current budget constraints is very much at risk.

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In this section, we describe trends in state funding between the and fiscal years. All dollar values have been adjusted for inflation and are reported in dollars. All reported years in this section refer to the fiscal year e. Additional details concerning the data and our methods for analyzing them are available in Section A. Over the last two decades, state appropriations per undergraduate student have fallen across all public institutions in Virginia, with the reductions over the past ten years having been particularly steep and applicable to every public institution, four-year and two-year alike.

In Virginia, as in most states, state funding for higher education is closely correlated with the strength — and volatility — of the economy. As Figure 2. Figure 2. In the first two cases, we experienced significant upturns in funding as the economy recovered, especially during the prolonged economic expansion of the mid- and lates.

It Isn’t Working—Why Not?

The current recession — the Great Recession — appears to be different in important ways, however, and there is reason for concern about current and future levels of state funding even as the state and the nation slowly recover. The first reason for concern is that the severity of the Great Recession that began in , and the very slow global recovery that has followed, make it unlikely that state funding for higher education will recover as quickly as it did following the and recessions.

While state appropriations have historically increased as the economy recovered from recessions, the current post-recession economy is far weaker than the economy that followed the recession.