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House committee to hold hearing on strengthening federal student loan programs

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March 12, 2013 06:54 pm

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Alliance for Excellent Education Vice President of Policy Charmaine Mercer is testifying tomorrow morning in front of the House Education and the Workforce Committee during a hearing titled “Keeping College Within Reach: Examining Opportunities to Strengthen Federal Student Loan Programs.” Could this be the start of some momentum to #fixfinaid?

This hearing could signal the start of some movement on a reauthorization to the Higher Education Act, the nation’s main piece of higher education legislation, which was last fully reauthorized in 2008. Since then, Congress has tweaked various parts of the federal student aid system in a piecemeal fashion, including preventing a doubling of the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans last year, which it will consider doing again in the next few months.

Dr. Mercer’s remarks will stress to the committee that changes to the federal student system should be considered comprehensively. Her testimony points out, “Looking solely at loans doesn’t address the shortfalls of grants. Addressing the shortfalls of grants doesn’t consider weaknesses in higher education tax credits. Fixing higher education tax credits doesn’t, in turn, remedy the challenges and limitation of the campus-based programs. Addressing any one aspect of this system is necessary but individually, each is not sufficient for true reform of postsecondary aid programs and promoting student success and completion.”

The Alliance’s work to address shortcomings in the federal student aid system can be found at http://www.fixfinancialaid.org, where two reports, A System in Need of Repair and Repairing a Broken System are also located.

Other witnesses will  include the New America Foundation’s Jason Delisle, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)’s president and CEO, Justin Draeger, and Dr. Deborah Lucas of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

I encourage you to tune into the hearing and listen to the remarks and dialogues between the witnesses and members of Congress. Listen carefully for any clues that there is potential for more work in this area to fix financial aid.

The hearing begins at 10:00am. To view a live webcast of the proceedings, click here. Join the conversation on twitter using the hashtag #fixfinaid.

Bill DeBaun is a policy and advocacy associate at the Alliance for Excellent Education. 

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