New, Improved Federal Financial Aid

The process of applying for and actually obtaining financial aid is (a little) better. According to an article by Elizabeth Fuller in the Christian Science Monitor:

The federal stimulus included $100 billion for higher education, much of which colleges and universities have used to prevent or minimize planned tuition increases. Earlier this year, Congress voted $36 billion to increase Pell Grants, using money saved by eliminating subsidies to banks that offer student loans. This year, Pell Grants will be $5,500 – around $800 more per grant than two years ago. For the first time, Pell Grants will rise with cost of living increases.

Congress consolidated all federal loan programs into the Direct Loan Program, so families will be able to find college financial aid more easily.

Students and families can take advantage of federal loans by filling out the Federal Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

According to the article however, many American families, about 25 percent of them, don’t bother to fill out FAFSA, either because they “had never heard of it or else [inaccurately] thought that they weren’t eligible.”

It’s too early to tell yet if these consolidated loan programs have actually led American families to access more federal loans, but it’s certainly made it easier to do so.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer