Please act to support these policies to remove barriers to college access and success for California students:
1. Strengthen & Simplify the Application for Federal Financial Aid: To strengthen and simplify the FAFSA, we should continue the use of Prior-Prior data & earlier availability of the application, expand the IRS data retrieval tool, and reduce the number and complexity of questions.
2. Restore, Increase, and Protect Pell Grants: The Pell Grant program has opened the doors to college for millions of low-income students in California. Increasing investments in Pell Grants will ensure college access and completion for California students who need it most. Pell Grant eligibility should be restored for students taking courses year-round so they can finish college sooner; the maximum Pell Grant award should be increased to cover a greater share of college costs; and surplus funds should stay within the program.
3. Streamline the Student Loan & Income-Based Repayment Options: Students are presented with a confusing array of loan and repayment programs. Even when subsidized and unsubsidized loans are available, students often still pick more expensive private loans (without any forgiveness or repayment options) due to lack of understanding the differences. California now requires colleges to inform students of federal options before certifying a private loan and we should extend this protection to students across the country.
Income-based plans cap borrower’s payments based on income and family size with the ability to discharge any remaining debt after 20 or 25 years, depending on the plan. The four current plans should be consolidated into a single, improved plan so that students can more easily assess if income-based repayment makes sense for them. Borrowers opting for income-based repayment should also have the option for automatic income verification to reduce issues in certifying their income on-time.