Since 2005, The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) and its Project on Student Debt have worked to reduce the risks and burdens of student debt. We have helped create and improve Income-driven repayment plans to keep federal loan payments manageable; strengthen Pell Grants, which reduce the need to borrow; and simplify the financial aid application process. But there is much more work to be done.


Increase Access to Need-Based Student Aid
Financial aid policy should ensure that students from all backgrounds can get a college education without taking on crushing debt or excessive outside work that reduces the odds of completing a degree or certificate. Truly supporting college access and success requires more need-based grant aid and better targeted tax incentives that help limit how much students need to borrow and work while in school, and a financial aid process that is a gateway rather than an obstacle.
Simplify and Improve Federal Student Loans and Their Repayment
The current federal student loan program is too complex, its terms are too arbitrary, and its benefits can be better targeted. Much of the complexity of this system is a holdover from when banks received subsidies to make loans that were guaranteed by the government. Now that these loans are made directly and more cost-effectively by the Department of Education, the entire student loan system, from disbursement to repayment, can and should be streamlined and improved.
Provide Students with Key Information When They Need It
Students need reliably accessible, timely, accurate, and comparable information about costs, financial aid, and typical outcomes in order to make informed decisions about where to go to school and how to pay for it. By highlighting important data on individual colleges’ costs and student outcomes, the Department’s College Scorecard is a key resource for students and families.
Protect Students and Taxpayers from Colleges that Overcharge and Underdeliver
While students are, and should be, held accountable for studying and making progress toward a credential, and remaining in good standing on their debt, federal policies can and should do more to protect taxpayers and students from waste, fraud, and abuse in federal student aid programs as a result of schools failing to graduate large shares of students and consistently leaving students with debts they cannot repay.
Reduce Reliance on Private Education Loans and Strengthen Borrower Protections
Interest rates on private loans are typically variable, like on a credit card, and over the life of the loan much higher than the fixed rates on federal student loans. Lower income students usually receive the worst rates and terms, and private loans do not have the important borrower protections and repayment options that come with federal loans.