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Simplifying access to financial aid for college students was among the subjects under discussion as the Kennedy School’s Susan Dynarski joined other education experts at the Hamilton Project Forum, held at the Brookings Institution last week.
Dynarski’s work on federal student aid, co-authored with Judith E. Scott-Clayton, a doctoral candidate in public policy, describes the current college tuition loans system as broken. Information on tuition assistance, they argue, is unnecessarily complicated, and students are often discouraged from going to college even though aid is available to them.
Dynarski proposes a drastic simplification of the current financial aid application process — combining Pell Grants and the Hope and Lifetime Learning tax credits for undergraduates into a single grant administered through the Department of Education.
“Eligibility can be explained on a postcard, allowing students and families to anticipate their grants many years before the college decision," Dynarski explains.
Harvard University Professor Lawrence Summers and Graduate School of Education Professor Thomas Kane also spoke at the forum.
The Hamilton Project, launched last year, is looking at ways to promote opportunity and growth through the United States’ education system.