A group of 50 national higher education experts, including three from New England higher education institutions, has published a set of 36 recommendations, which they hope will help guide relevant stakeholders and Congress as they consider reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
Their report, Innovative, Forward-Thinking Recommendations to Congress on Higher Education Policy, and its Executive Summary, was announced on March 13.
The national “Higher Education Committee of 50” was convened by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Over the last year, they were tasked with developing policy solutions to help address the obstacles that prevent students from enrolling in, paying for, and graduating from college.
The Committee comprised college presidents, enrollment managers, admissions staff, financial aid administrators, bursars, members of governing boards, students and other leaders from all higher education sectors throughout the U.S.
The Committee worked in four subgroups focusing on four key policy areas: access, accountability, affordability and transparency.
Angel Pérez, vice president of enrollment at Trinity College and a delegate to the New England Board of Higher Education, who served on the Committee’s subgroup on access, commented, “A common theme across the Committee’s work was addressing the tremendous burden of administrative processes placed on students and families as they try to navigate financial aid and college applications.” He said data shows that the financial aid application process embedded with the current FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is discouraging especially to low-income students and families, and in too many cases those families don’t complete the process.
In addition to Pérez, two other Committee members came from New England higher education institutions: Jon Westover, senior associate director of admissions at the University of Massachusetts Amherst until July 2018 when he joined North Carolina State University as director of undergraduate admissions and associate vice provost, and Beverly Ledbetter, Esq., vice president and general counsel for Brown University until her retirement in August 2018.