• Financial Aid—Campus-based programs

    Federal Policy Priorities

    • Support continued funding for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program (FSEOG), Federal Work-Study Program (FWS) and Perkins Loan Program.
    • Advocate for new federal capital, continued institutional discretion to determine student awards based on need, and maintenance of at least current institutional award level in any Perkins Loan Program restructuring. 
    • Support a policy that requires the federal government to fully reimburse institutions for Perkins Loan cancellations related to service-related activity in the military, teaching, public service, law enforcement, corrections and firefighting. 
    • Any revamped funding formula(s) for campus-based programs should provide for expanded participation and more equitable distribution among institutions. 

    Summary

    In addition to grants and loans, the federal government provides roughly $1.7 billion annually in student financial aid, but rather than providing these funds directly to students, they are awarded by the institution. The two programs that provide these funds are the Supplemental Opportunity Education Grant Program (SEOG) and the Federal Work Study Program (FWS). SEOG funds are provided to supplement Pell-eligible student awards, further decreasing college costs for these recipients. The FWS provides money during the academic year to students in exchange for campus or community-based employment. While this aid is awarded in the student’s aid packaging, the money provides relief for educational expenses realized during the school year. Not all institutions receive SEOG or FWS monies, nor are funds equitably distributed through these programs.

    The Perkins Loan Program is another campus-based program, whereby Perkins Loans are awarded by the institution to undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate unmet financial need. The interest rate on these loans is five percent. Institutions participating in this program are required to match the federal capital funds with one-third of their own dollars when issuing a loan.

    A revamping of funding formulas for campus-based programs was proposed in the Obama Administration’s fiscal year 2013 budget. While not providing specifics, the plan called for rewarding institutions in three criteria areas: keeping tuition low, providing quality, and serving and graduating low-income individuals. There are numerous complications inherent in defining these criteria. When focusing on low increases in tuition, does one factor by percentage or actual dollar amount? In trying to define quality, institutions may be held to an ever changing standard. Quality for one individual may not mean the same to another. The clearest criteria of the three is serving and graduating low-income students, however even measuring this area can be complicated.