NEBHE Awarded Lumina Foundation Grant to Assist New England States in Redesigning Student Aid Programs

Goal is to redesign state financial aid programs to meet national and state college enrollment and degree-attainment targets, better align state, federal and institutional student aid strategies  …

NEBHE was awarded a $404,400 grant from Lumina Foundation to help the New England states redesign and align their student financial aid programs.

The purpose of the grant is to provide technical assistance and support services to New England states redesigning their state merit- and need-based financial aid policies and programs. NEBHE will work with participating states over the next two years by:

  • Conducting research on current and proposed state, federal and institutional financial aid policies and programs with a New England regional perspective;
  • Hosting regional convenings on student financial aid redesign;
  • Providing technical assistance to individual states. Participating states will be selected in spring 2014.

This project comes at a critical time for higher education. Students enrolling in college are faced with rising tuition rates at institutions that may be hard-pressed for funding—especially public institutions, which may only now be seeing modest rebounds in state funding after years of declines in state appropriations. For many families, stagnant or falling incomes compound the situation.

Average in-state tuition and mandatory fees at New England public four-year institutions rose by  $2,617 or 36% between 2007 and 2012, according to a study conducted by NEBHE. At public two-year institutions, the increase averaged $942 or 27%.

Out-of-state tuition and mandatory fees at New England public institutions increased even more than in-state rates, rising $4,228 or 26% on average at public four-year institutions and $1,639 or 19% at two-year institutions.

Meanwhile, the 2012 median household income for New England families still hadn’t reached 2008 pre-recession levels. Taking into consideration inflation-adjusted dollars, median family income actually dropped in all New England states from 2000 to 2012, according to the U.S Census. The decline in median income means many families must spend an increasingly greater share of their household income on higher tuition bills.

Student grant aid—which traditionally helps students afford college and, unlike student loans, doesn’t need to be paid back—has not kept up with increases in published tuition and fees at public institutions. Most New England state grant aid programs have not kept up with increases in tuition and fee rates, with some New England states cutting grant aid funding even in the face of higher tuition and fees.

In this environment, state grant aid programs are more important than ever, enabling students to go to college who could not otherwise afford to enroll.

“This project offers a unique opportunity to help states redesign their financial aid programs as well as work with the New England congressional delegation and state policymakers to more effectively align state, federal and institutional financial aid policies and enable students to better afford postsecondary opportunities,” said NEBHE President & CEO Michael Thomas. “We extend our deep appreciation to Lumina and look forward to the work ahead.”


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