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Three Proposals to Simplify the Federal Student Aid System: A Critical Reply From Financial Aid Administrators at Historically Black Colleges and Universities Open Access

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Abstract of DissertationThree Proposals to Simplify the Federal Aid System: A Critical Reply from Financial Aid Administrators at Historically Black Colleges and Universities Financial aid programs are supposed to improve access and affordability in higher education (Gillen, 2009). The effectiveness of these programs is increasingly being questioned as college attainment figures stagnate and the financial burden on students and families continues to climb year after year. The purpose of this study was to examine the views of financial aid administrators at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) on simplifying the federal student aid process. The quantitative research study attempted to answer questions using descriptive statistics. The data were compiled by surveying HBCU financial aid administrators. The simplification proposals reviewed were designed by the Obama Administration (U.S. Department of Education), National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), and Rethinking Student Aid Study Group. The study focused on HBCU financial aid administratorfs preferences regarding three simplification proposals. In an effort to add to the fieldfs understanding of the challenges faced by low-income students, a survey regarding the simplification of the federal student aid system was distributed to HBCU financial aid administrators. Historically Black Colleges and Universities were chosen because they assist and service a disproportionate number of low-income students. Survey respondents agreed in their perceptions regarding the simplification proposals that promote an easier application process with consolidated and streamlined individual programs. The survey respondents strongly agreed with performing a U.S. Department of Education and Internal Revenue Service database match. Survey respondents agreed with eliminating the links between Title IV participation, voter registration material distribution, and Constitution Day observances. Surprisingly, the survey respondents had mixed perceptions about whether the application process as it currently exists act as a barrier to access, especially among low-income applicants. The key attributes,, simplicity and certainty,,are sorely missing in the federal student aid system (Dynarski & Scott-Clayton, 2007).

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