All Students Should Receive Federal Money for College, Report Proposes

Report: “Strengthening Our Economy Through College for All”

Authors: David A. Bergeron, vice president for postsecondary education, and Carmel Martin, executive vice president for policy, both at the Center for American Progress

Organization: Center for American Progress

Summary: This report is the first in what will be a series of policy recommendations on how best to break down barriers to higher education through changes in the federal student-aid system.

The initial report lays out the center’s “College for All” plan, which proposes, among other things, that:

  • Every high-school graduate receive some amount of financial support, up to the cost of tuition and fees at a public four-year college or university. If students attend community college, their whole cost of attendance would be covered.
  • The type and amount of federal aid students receive depend on
    their families’ long-term economic circumstances, not just their
    income in the past calendar year. Students would not have to
    complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to receive federal support.
  • Students repay much of their federal aid, but their repayment plan would depend on income and be streamlined into a single payment. Graduates who are struggling financially would not have to make payments until their earnings were sufficient.

The center plans to release several more reports in the next few months that will further describe the plan, including its cost.

Bottom Line: The United States’ college-attainment rate has remained mostly flat over the past decade, and fewer low-income students are able to afford to go to college. The proposals in this plan aim to increase college attainment, especially for students from low- to moderate-income families, and also increase the country’s skilled work force.

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