Home » CPE vice president co-authors report proposing new approach to state financial aid programs

CPE vice president co-authors report proposing new approach to state financial aid programs

John Hayek is senior vice president for budget, policy and planning for the Council on Postsecondary Education.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 10, 2012) — Council on Postsecondary Education’s John Hayek, senior vice president for budget, policy and planning, co-authored a national report that proposes recommendations to strengthen state’s student financial aid programs.

“Beyond Need and Merit: Strengthening State Grant Programs,” released earlier this week by the Brookings Institution, proposes moving away from the traditional dichotomy between “need-based” and “merit-based” aid and instead advocates for designing or modifying state financial aid programs that target aid to students with financial need with appropriate expectations and support for college success.

State grant programs are more important than ever to make college possible for students as state support for higher education erodes and tuitions increase. For these dollars to make as much difference as possible in the lives of students and in the future of state economies, state grant programs must be designed to produce the largest possible return on taxpayers’ investment, according to the report.

“There is a significant push to increase educational attainment at all levels and state policy leaders need to have an ongoing process to make sure state investments in financial aid continue to be aligned with aggressive educational and workforce goals,” Hayek said.

He was invited to participate on the Brookings Institution State Grant Aid Study Group, chaired by student aid expert Sandy Baum. The report examined the variety of state grant programs currently in place and made policy recommendations based on the best available research.

The report highlights several recommendations for states to consider including: 1) help students whose potential to succeed is most constrained by limited resources; 2) consolidate and simplify programs to make it easier for students to understand options; and 3) design programs that encourage timely completion.

The work of the national group is consistent with the Council’s strategic agenda, Stronger by Degrees, and Kentucky’s statewide policy objective to decrease financial barriers to college access and completion.

Kentucky’s growth in student financial aid reinforces the importance of aligning state financial aid policy to state goals.

Over the past decade, Kentucky has been a leader in providing state financial aid to thousands of college students through its three main programs, the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship, the College Access Program,and the Kentucky Tuition Grant program for students attending the state’s independent colleges and universities.

State financial aid in these programs has grown from about $38 million in 1999 to more than $190 million in 2012. In terms of Kentucky’s overall state appropriation to postsecondary education, student financial aid dollars now make up a larger share, growing from about 5 percent in 1999 to about 17 percent in 2013.