New Jersey could get as much as $490 million in federal financial aid for college students if the federal government would revise how it distributes some of its higher education funding, according to a report issued Thursday by The Education Trust.
The report, titled “Doing Away with Debt” said the money would come with accountability requirements for states, colleges and students.
The report proposes providing grants to students of families with incomes less than $50,000. Middle income students with incomes up to $115,000 could get no-interest loans. All students would have to attend college full-time, do 10 hours of work or service a week, and complete college within six years.
The states would have to agree to track the progress of students at all of the participating colleges, make sure all students took courses in high school that prepared them for college or careers, and stabilize state funding for colleges to help control the cost of tuition and fees. The colleges would have to meet set graduation rates and agree to enroll eligible students.
Kati Haycock,president of The Education Trust, said cost is a huge reason many students do not graduate from college, but under current aid programs there are no incentives to make sure students actually graduate. She admitted an overhaul of the programs would be difficult in the contentious Congress, but said that is what is needed.
Michael Dannenberg, director of higher education and education finance policy at The Education Trust, said he expects state officials will support the plan because it would be a massive infusion of federal funds for them, and they could blend the federal money with current state financial aid programs.
The plan estimates the total cost at $24 billion per year, all coming from existing federal programs the report said are ineffective and inefficient.