Congressional Panels Look at Ways to Restructure Student Aid
- With 2 hearings, Congress takes first steps toward rewriting Higher Education Act
- Researchers debate changes to federal income-based repayment programs
- Education Department official defends agency's loan servicing contracts
- Despite student debt concern, income-based repayment lags
- Problems plague Education Department debt management process
Members of Congress this week heard from higher education advocates and researchers on ways to restructure the federal government’s student aid programs as lawmakers continue their series of hearings on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. The education committees in both chambers convened separate hearings Wednesday and Thursday to discuss various ways to change federal student aid. Lawmakers heard about simplifying the administrative barriers for students applying for aid, restructuring Pell Grants to better incentivize completion, and improving income-based repayment options for student borrowers.
Lawmakers on both sides appeared to be in agreement that the application process to apply for federal aid needs to be simpler. Both Senators Tom Harkin and Lamar Alaxander, respectively the Democratic chair and Republican ranking member of the Senate education committee, said Thursday they believed there was a general consensus on simplifying the process by which students apply for federal aid.
Proposals on simplifying how the federal government doles out billions of dollars in grants, loans and education tax credits each year, meanwhile, are likely to be more fraught.