The knowledge and skill demands of the 21st century workplace increasingly require advanced degrees. America’s capacity to develop the talent required to meet national needs and to compete in the global economy depends on a postsecondary education system that encompasses undergraduate and graduate education. The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act provides the opportunity to include policy changes that address these challenges so that America has the educated workforce necessary to advance the U.S. economy.
CGS recommends the following principles for HEA reauthorization:
Establish procedures that encourage master’s and doctoral students to make informed financial aid decisions and reduce debt.
- Provide entrance counseling for first time graduate students.
- Distinguish between what the student is eligible to borrow, and what the student needs to borrow, and require the student to affirmatively make the choice.
- Eliminate the duplicative costs of borrowing for a given academic year by consolidating multiple loan origination fees into a single fee.
- Include information regarding the sources of funding that comprise the student’s award package and the tax liability associated with each source of funding.
- Periodically notify students during their education pursuit of loan repayment options and accrued interest.
- Consolidate and reduce the number of loan repayment options available into standard repayment, extended repayment and income-driven repayment strategies.
Modify Annual and Aggregate Loan limits
- Set separate aggregate loan limits for federal education loans for undergraduate and graduate borrowing.
- Ensure that the amount borrowed under GradPLUS loans is at a level that is sufficient to meet the financial assistance needed by low-income students to pursue advanced degrees.
- Provide the Secretary with the authority to adjust the annual and aggregate student loan limits based on specific economic factors, such as the Consumer Price Index.
Create incentives for innovative programs and programs that increase degree completion that respond to education and skill demands of the workforce and areas of national need.
- Provide Pell Grants to eligible graduate students who have not exhausted their full Pell eligibility as undergraduates to pursue graduate education.
- Integrate meaningful employer engagement combined with rigorous disciplinary content into graduate programs, similar to Professional Science Master’s Programs.
- Continue and expand funding for interdisciplinary fields of study under the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program.
- Support a separate Javits Program.