Talk is cheap when it comes to politicians' promises, but one thing that remains expensive is a college education. From vetoing a scholarships bill that would free up $721 million for community colleges and scholarships for low-income students, to killing the Senate Bill 180 which would require the New Mexico Lottery to provide $41 million to a college scholarships fund there has been no resolution to the budget stalemate since July 1, 2015. New America Higher Education has one resolution: out with the old, in with the new. That means removing federal loans, federal tuition vouchers, Pell grants, and tuition tax credits.
In their policy paper, "Starting from Scratch: A New Federal and State Partnership in Higher Education," New America Higher Education expressed their vision to reconstruct and repair the "broken system of financing higher education." The team plans to scrap the archaic system and replace it with a "federal-state financial partnership" where the government would dole money to states, which would go to colleges and universities - taking into account important factors such as enrolled low-income students. Students would only have to pay their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the state would be held accountable for student outcomes such graduation rates and securing employment. In addition to lowering tuition, the cost of living expenses such as room and board, transportation, and childcare costs would be lowered.
States would have to maintain their current funding as provided in their individual budgets, match federal funding by 25 percent, and be responsible for performance and costs. There would be a bonus to states that contribute more than expected and also, a bonus for colleges who enroll more than 25 percent of low-income students. What's the catch? The plan would cost roughly $38 billion annually, and states would have to contribute an additional $17.9 billion. The existing system has left about 7 million borrowers in default with their student loans and the report claims that "going to college has left them in a much worse position than if they had never enrolled."
The partisanship disaster continues as colleges and universities haven't received "operating money from the state since July 1," according to Celeste Bott of the Chicago Tribune. The MAP grant provides up to $5,000 in financial aid to students who demonstrate need, according to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. Some claim the scholarships bill would snag money from social service providers who provide care for the state's "most vulnerable residents," or that states simply do not have the money to spend. Governor Rauner agrees that the school funding formula needs to be changed.
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