Brookings study: State grant aid goes increasingly to the wealthy

19 May

In 3rd world America: Money changes everything, moi said:

Sabrina Tavernise wrote an excellent New York Times article, Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say

It is a well-known fact that children from affluent families tend to do better in school. Yet the income divide has received far less attention from policy makers and government officials than gaps in student accomplishment by race.

Now, in analyses of long-term data published in recent months, researchers are finding that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period.

“We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race,” said Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist. Professor Reardon is the author of a study that found that the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students had grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s, and is now double the testing gap between blacks and whites.

The increased rate of poverty has profound implications if this society believes that ALL children have the right to a good basic education.

Daniel de Vise has written the thought provoking Washington Post article, State grant aid goes increasingly to the wealthy:

But what the report really advocates is that all states base their grant programs primarily on need. Its top recommendation: “Focus resources on students whose chance of enrolling and succeeding in college will be most improved by the receipt of state support.”

A surprisingly large number of states don’t do that.

Twenty years ago, the report says, 90 percent of state grant dollars were awarded at least partly according to financial need. Today, that share has dipped to 70 percent.

At least 13 states have enacted large merit-based grant programs in the last two decades. Such programs are popular among middle-class families who vote.

The result: 35 percent of aid recipients in Louisiana come from families with family incomes above $80,000. A Georgia grant program favors students in the top income quartile.

Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia all award less than half of their state aid according to financial need.

An inventory of aid programs in Washington, D.C. found that just 6 percent of state-based grant aid went to students according to need. The best-known program, Tuition Assistance Grants, is open to rich and poor alike.

Virginia spends about two-fifths of grant dollars without regard to need. Maryland, by contrast, allots only 5 percent of scholarship funds without considering need.

The authors, who include college-finance guru Sandy Baum, suggest states eliminate the current complex web of aid programs and streamline the state scholarship effort into a single, simple program that targets students according to income and family size, period.

For example, a state might enact a sliding scale of aid according to income: $4,000 to a student from a family at the poverty line, $1,000 for a family earning $50,000 and a cutoff of $60,000 in household income.

This matters because states are spending a growing share of a shrinking higher-education budget on grant aid. State subsidies declined from $8,700 per student to $7,100 per student between 2008 and 2011, after inflation. Yet, over the same span, state grant aid grew from $8.4 billion to $9.2 billion.

The report de Vise refers to is Beyond Need and Merit: Strengthening State Grant Programs which was released by Brookings Institute (Brookings) .

Brookings describes the report in a press release:

Editor’s Note: This report was released in conjunction with an event at Brookings on strengthening state grant programs.

Rising college tuition levels—accelerated by cuts in state funding for public universities— have combined with today’s tough economic realities to make financing a postsecondary education even more difficult for students and their families. State grant programs are more important than ever to make college possible for many students who could not otherwise afford to enroll.

For these dollars to make as much difference as possible in the lives of students and in the future of state economies, state grant programs must be designed to produce the largest possible return on taxpayers’ investment. In this report, the Brookings Institution State Grant Aid Study Group, chaired by student aid expert Sandy Baum, examines the variety of state grant programs currently in place and makes policy recommendations based on the best available research.

The group proposes moving away from the dichotomy between “need-based” and “merit-based” aid and instead designing programs that integrate targeting of students with financial need with appropriate expectations and support for college success. Here are highlights from their recommendations:

Help students with financial need

• To maximize the impact of their financial aid programs, states should do a better job of targeting aid dollars at students whose potential to succeed is most constrained by limited resources.

• Students whose options are constrained by limited resources are most likely to be affected by state grant awards—in terms of both their ability to attend college and the likelihood that they will graduate.

Consolidate and simplify

• States should consolidate programs to make the system simpler and easier for prospective students and their families to understand and navigate.

• Programs can be better targeted but still relatively simple. Look-up tables like those that would base grant eligibility only on income and family size might serve as a model.

• States should welcome federal simplification efforts and should resist any temptation to collect additional data—restoring complication even as the federal government reduces it.

• States should create a single net-price calculator that students can use to calculate the cost of attendance at every public institution in the state.

Design programs that encourage timely completion

• To encourage on-time degree attainment, state grant programs should reward concrete accomplishments such as the completion of credit hours.

• Academic requirements embodied in state grant programs should provide meaningful incentives for success in college; they should not be focused exclusively on past achievement or be so high as to exclude students on the margin of college access and success.

• States should provide second chances for students who lose funding because they do not meet targets the first time around.

Improving state grant programs in difficult financial times

• Rationing funds is unavoidable and there may be no good options under these circumstances, but some choices are worse than others. Providing assistance to those who apply early and denying aid to those who apply after the money has run out is quite arbitrary, particularly if an application deadline cannot be specified in advance.

• States under pressure to reduce their budgets quickly could lower income limits; cut grants for all recipients, with the neediest students losing the least; or build more incentives for college completion into their programs.

• States should use this time of financial exigency to carefully evaluate the effectiveness of existing grant programs and put in place systems for periodic review of these programs.

• In addition to tweaking their existing programs, states should test and evaluate innovative approaches. A pilot program found to be very successful could then be scaled up and replace another program found to be less effective.

State Profiles


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In 3rd world America: The economy affects the society of the future, moi said:

One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. Without continued sustained investment in education in this country, we are the next third world country. All over the country plans are being floated to cut back the school year or eliminate programs which help the most disadvantaged. Alexander Eichler reports in the Huffington Post article, Middle-Class Jobs Disappearing As Workforce Shifts To High-Skill, Low-Skill: Study:

America is increasingly becoming a place of high- and low-skill jobs, with less room available for a middle class.

A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that over the past 30 years, the U.S. workforce has shifted toward high-paying jobs that require a great deal of education — jobs in the legal, engineering or technology industries, for example — and toward low-paying jobs that require little schooling, like food preparation, maintenance and personal care.

What haven’t fared so well are the industries in the middle, like sales, teaching, construction, repair, entertainment, transportation and business — the ones where a majority of Americans end up working.

In 1980, these middle-level jobs accounted for 75 percent of the workforce. By 2009, that number had fallen to 68 percent. In the same span of time, low- and high-skill jobs had each grown as a percentage of the workforce.

In order to support family creation and family preservation, there must be liveable wage jobs.                                                                           


College Board’s ‘Big Future’: Helping low-income kids apply to college          

The growing class divide: Parents taking out loans for kindergarten and elementary school education                                                                                        

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

One Response to “Brookings study: State grant aid goes increasingly to the wealthy”


  1. Ohio report: Regional cooperation to align education services « drwilda - August 17, 2012

    […] Brookings study: State grant aid goes increasingly to the wealthy                                                    … […]

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