College Loan Applications To Get A Lot Simpler

College Loan Applications To Get A Lot Simpler


First, the numbers…

. Last year, after the recession had begun, the number of applications rose by 12 percent to more than 16 million, according to the Education Department. Detailed estimates are not yet available for last year, but of all full-time college undergraduates in 2007, 58 percent applied for aid, and 47 percent received it.

Still, many who are eligible do not apply. The American Council on Education, in a 2004 report, estimated that 1.5 million students probably would have been awarded Pell Grants had they applied for them. That was up from 850,000 such cases in 2000.

Now, the fixes…

  • Shorten and streamline the online application, reducing the number of screens by about two-thirds.
  • Create a Web application to use tax data families have already submitted to the IRS, helping to eliminate confusion in answering questions.
  • Ask Congress to pass legislation that removes more than half of the financial questions on the form.

I’d expect this one to fly through Congress, but we shall see…

  • Mike A.

    Patchwork approach..only good for short term. Ultimately we need to address why the wealthiest nation in the world requires either parents to burn throw their retirement savings, or students to enter into enormous debt, in order to obtain a higher education and compete in the global economy.

    Does anyone know of a study that explains what factors have driven up the cost of college so dramatically over the last 2 decades? I would be interested in reading this.

  • ExiledIndependent

    We’ve got to have a highly educated, highly trained work force in America. We can’t compete for assembly line jobs anymore. Hope this gets through quickly. Still waiting for a program that provides high-value skills to the people shoveling asphalt right now on stimulus projects; it’s work for a year or two, and then…?

  • kranky kritter

    Yes, I saw a sample of the proposed new form:

    Name________________ SS#________________

    A.It costs $34, 726 to go to this school. Can you pay?

    [ ] Yes (If yes, go to part B.)
    [ ] No (If no, go to part C.)

    B. Congratulations, you are accepted as a student to this college,contingent upon receipt of your check for $34,726.

    C. Thank you for your application. We regret to inform you that your application has been rejected, and wish you well in your future endeavors.

    Ahh, the virtue of simplicity. And just think of all that money the college saved by laying off admissions staff, which pared $247 off of the tuition cost.

  • kranky kritter

    We’ve got to have a highly educated, highly trained work force in America. We can’t compete for assembly line jobs anymore.

    This is IMO worth serious discussion. So many people have said this so many times that most folks just accept it as true. I have substantial doubts. Just what are these high-skill unfilled jobs, and where are they?

    At the bottom line where push comes to shove, what America must have is a productive workforce, one that produces goods and services that the rest of the world wants. If we produce, we prosper, whether the products come from skilled or unskilled workers.
    What worries me most is how much of our economy is composed of consumption and service jobs. The entire service sector of the job market is suspect. To the extent that the services involve trade internal to the US as opposed to services that can be sold to other countries, I worry that they can quickly vanish. America keeps borrowing more money, leading to an inflated dollar supply. How much of the service sector fueled by this amounts to anything more than us jerking each other off?

    Yes, we can produce services as well as products, as long as those services are of value to the rest of the world. If not, we’re in trouble if China and other foreign investors close the spigot.

    If America continues to consume way more than it produces as a nation, what reason in the world is there for the rest of the world to keep importing their products here so that we can pay for them with constantly devalued dollars? The world doesn’t need us or want us as customers if we can’t return actual value. All of the people overseas making cameras and DVDs and computers and iphones and garmins would like to buy these products themselves.

    If and when Chins decides to stop pegging the yuan to the dollar, or the world votes to rescind the dollar’s status as reserve currency, it’ll go downhill fast. A few years ago, lots of folks said “it’l never happen.” Now, some of those same folks are saying “wow, that might happen, and it would really suck hard for America.”

  • Mike A.

    “We’ve got to have a highly educated, highly trained work force in America. We can’t compete for assembly line jobs anymore.”

    I am not sure I agree entirely with this statement either. For example, S. Korea is a modern, industrialized nation with very high costs of living. Yet they successfully design, develop and build many of their products internally (Samsung, LG, Hyundai) and are successful in exporting these goods around the world. In many cases their worldwide exports are the true revenue for their economy. I am not stating they do not have factories in low-cost labor areas such as China, Philippines, Vietnam, etc. I am saying they have a model which appears to successfully balance onshore and offshore manufacturing.

    The above paragraph can also be applied to Japan.

    I go back to my statements in a prior blog that the US has created an environment that dissuades onshore manufacturing and encourages offshore production. Somewhere between the extremes, there exists a balance.

  • Mike A.

    I have real concern for our education/employment system. Over the last 10 years I have seen my industry import foreigners for high tech positions at an alarming rate. I am not against them for coming and I would do the same. What I am concerned about is the lack of MS and PhD students from our own schools. We invest in our students through our taxes to educate them. The underlying assumption is that they will provide some level of return to our investment.

    I am not certain of exactly why this is the case. There are a few potential factors that can be discussed:

    1. Our primary schools do a poor job of preparing students for the rigor of advanced technical degrees.
    2. The rewards of a career in a technical field are not worth the effort to obtain the degree. Note that “effort” can be defined as efforts in learning as well as efforts in financial costs.
    3. The costs of importing a foreigner (over several years) are lower than that of hiring a US grad (the ROI is better).

    Although I don’t think our primary schools are as good as they can and should be, I don’t believe #1 is the significant factor. I tend to lean towards 2 and 3…


  • kranky kritter

    At the 4th grade level, American students match their global peers performance on TIMSS, an international test of math/sci aptitude. Somewhere later on, it all goes awry, and American secondary students start to get badly outperformed by many other nations.

    I believe the cause is largely sociocultural. The expectations bar is set too low, and lots of people proudly state that they were bad at math when they were kids too. Geez, congratulations!

    Next time you go to a parent teacher conference for your 11 year old, ask the school to explain why the middle school math series they use essentially teaches the same content for 3 years in a row. Ask why American students reach Algebra and may still have lessons on how to add and subtract fractions.

    Ask what percent of the budget goes to teaching kids with special needs. Ask what programs exist to foster excellence among the kids with high math aptitude. Try not to cry at the answers.

    BTW Mike, by saying this, I don’t AT ALL mean to imply that you are wrong about 2 and 3. I will add though that perhaps from thre employee perspective the ROI on a technical degree would be better if students didn’t routinely graduate with a student loan debt approaching or even surpassing 6 figures.

  • ExiledIndependent

    Fair comments, Mike and KK. Let me clarify–the skills that it takes to attach a bolt to a sheet of metal aren’t profitable in America any more. Someone who attaches said bolt to said sheet of metal isn’t going to have an income to support a family of four and pay for college from what has become, basically, a manual labor job. I’ve worked in an automotive supplier plant and it doesn’t take much skill to pull a piece of plastic out of a molder and hang it on a conveyor rack.

    So in terms of our productivity (which is a good point–the education and training are fairly meaningless until applied towards a result), we need to identify a) where demand is and b) where we can compete on quality and price. The Korean example is great–these are skilled production jobs rather than (relatively) unskilled ones. I wonder what the education and training is like for a Korean in an LG factory? Also, I’d consider the impact of protectionist practices (i.e. auto industry in Japan).

    Encouraging innovation, then keeping the production of that innovation domestic, makes a lot of sense.

  • kranky kritter

    Exiled, one further wrinkle to all of this is the prospect of dollar devaluation due to the huge increase in dollar supply. It may not currently be, in general, worthwhile to produce many or most industrial products here in the US, for reasons we all recognize.

    But if and when standards of living rise elsewhere on Earth in nations that have produced exports and saved their own money (producing more than they consume in aggregate), US standards of living are pretty likely to decline concurrently. THEN the US will need to produce more exportable goods and services. Otherwise, we are stuck handing back and forth all of our increasing de-valued dollars, trading pedicures and cable installations and exporting little more than food and summer blockbusters.

    Ultimately, I think our plan must include being realistic about the achievement capacity of the population as a whole. Despite what we like to think about America being a modern and advanced nation, only a bit more than 3/4 of students graduate high school. So 25% or maybe more of adult job-seekers have questionable literacy/communication/calculation/critical thinking skills.

    We either find jobs for these folks, drop ’em on the dole, or let ’em starve. What can we have these folks do is an extremely difficult question to answer, especially if, like me, you think we need to be realistic about the limited upside potential such folks have when it comes to things like job training.

    And that doesn’t even touch on the rather obvious fact that training people for jobs doesn’t actually create any jobs for the trainees, only the trainers. American desire for the existence of good-paying jobs simply doesn’t create jobs. What creates jobs is available capital that can fund a venture that produces some product or service that someone else values. Preferable someone who isn’t an American, becuase all they can trade is devalued dollars.

    And I kinda hate to put it that way because it makes me sound like some douche in a bowtie, but there it is.

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    Great. A new, more simpler way to get into huge amounts of debt.