Building Fences

June 5, 2007

Robert Shireman, the founder and president of The Institute, has been guest-blogging for Higher Ed Watch, a higher education news and policy initiative from the New America Foundation. In his final post, "Building Fences," Shireman argues that state policies that use college funding as a carrot to keep students in the state after graduation are counterproductive.

Shopping for Student Loans: Treacherous Territory

April 25, 2007

Public confidence in college financial aid offices has been shattered by revelations of gifts, trips, deals, and kickbacks from lenders. In the resulting confusion, I have been asked time and again: "Is there a web site you can recommend where students can get accurate, complete and unbiased comparisons of student loan rates?"

What We Think of the New FAFSA4caster

April 2, 2007

On April 1, the U.S. Department of Education released the FAFSA4caster, an online tool intended to help families plan for college by providing early estimates of their federal financial aid eligibility. To get an early aid estimate, students and their parents have to answer 96 questions from the actual FAFSA.

Simplifying the FAFSA for everyone

February 20, 2007

The most inefficient and intimidating part of the financial aid process is requiring students and families to transcribe, calculate, and submit piles of income information that the government already has. An article in today's Inside Higher Ed describes how researchers are conducting an experiment with H&R Block that pre-fills the FAFSA with selected clients' tax data.

Private loan interest rates average about 10% today

August 8, 2006

Companies offering private student loans advertise low rates, but the rates they actually charge to individual borrowers, and how they determine those rates, are closely-held trade secrets. The rates are based on borrower credit scores and other factors; ultimately, companies maximize their returns by trying to charge the highest rate they can while still getting the business.

Towards a simpler FAFSA

August 2, 2006

One well-documented obstacle to economic diversity is the financial aid application process itself: the FAFSA is incredibly long, confusing and intimidating. When low-income students don't apply for financial aid, they miss out on resources that could increase their chances of success in college by allowing them to go to school full time, work reasonable hours, and attend more...