2008 October 6 - 12:00 am
Higher Education Plans
- Simplify the process for applying for federal financial aid by eliminating the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
- Families would instead apply for aid by checking a box on their federal tax form that would authorize the release of information and eliminate the need to fill out another form.
- Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit. The credit would make the first $4,000 in tuition free for most Americans, in exchange for 100 hours of public service each year. It would cover the cost of tuition at most community colleges.
- Create a Community College Partnership Program. The program would provide grants to colleges to analyze the skills and technical education most needed in their communities; start new associate degree programs in fields that are in demand; reward colleges that increase the number of students who earn degrees, and increase number of students who transfer to four-year institutions.
- Eliminate loans funded privately by lenders and banks, or the Federal Family Education Loan program (FFEL) in favor of the publicly funded Direct Loan Program.
- Expand Pell Grants to ensure the amount awarded keeps pace with rising college costs.
- Maintain the federal student loan program, or FFEL, but demand “the highest standard of integrity” from private lenders. A student loan continuity plan would expand “lender of last resort” capabilities for each state’s guarantee agency to make sure the credit crunch doesn’t affect student loans mid-stream.
- Consolidate federal student aid programs. McCain hasn’t said which programs he would consolidate, but says there are too many programs and it’s too complicated for families. The same is true for higher education tax benefits, which also should be simplified.
- Modernize universities by getting rid of regulatory barriers and supporting innovation. Retain colleges’ status as producers of a skilled workforce.
- Eliminate earmarks, or pork-barrel projects, to free up more money for federally funded research.
- Make the data colleges submit to the government each year available to families so students can make better choices about education.
- Draw on community colleges to retrain workers displaced by changes in the economy.