A new study released by The Brookings Institution on Wednesday says education policy needs to be based on strong evidence, with more investments in areas like early education and reforms in areas like federal student aid and loan processes. \
The Hamilton Project, an initiative at the Brookings Institution, released three new papers on the role of education in promoting opportunity and economic growth. The papers offered proposals for providing intensive preschool for disadvantaged children, simplifying the application process for college aid grants and changing the federal student loan program to make repayments more affordable.
According to Jason Furman, director of the Hamilton Project, America’s education system could do a whole lot better.
“America currently spends more than any other country on education without getting better outcomes,” he says. “We can make a lot of progress by taking the money we’re spending now, whether it is for teacher salaries or college assistance, and using that money in a smarter way. There are areas, particularly pre-school, where substantial new investments would lead to even larger dividends for society.”
The new Hamilton Project strategy papers argue that the American educational system’s most pressing challenge will be figuring out how to maximize the economic contributions of students who don’t attend college.
“Much of America’s economic growth over the past century can be attributed to advances made by the American workforce,” says Larry Summers, a member of The Hamilton Project’s advisory council. “In an increasingly global economy, it’s not enough for our education systems to merely keep pace. We must continue to expand access to high-quality education that can fuel American innovation and growth, and make that growth more broad-based.”
In one of the studies, public policy professors Susan Dynarski and Judith Scott-Clayton of Harvard University wrote about the complexity of distributing student financial aid grants. They found that simplifying certain kinds of federal student aid could help increase college enrollment among low- and moderate-income students by up to 7.4 percent. The authors propose that students could figure out their grant aid eligibility through a simple chart distributed through schools and the mail. The application process, they say, would be as easy as checking a box on the family’s regular tax returns.
In another forthcoming paper for the project, Dr. Thomas Kane, a professor of education and economics at Harvard, suggests having college repayments automatically adjust for changes in income over time, providing a safety valve to ease the burden of repayment on borrowers who have particularly low incomes in a given year.
For more information on the papers, visit www.hamiltonproject.org
— By Diverse staff
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