Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dynarski testifies on need to reform federal higher education affordability programs

Federal programs designed to encourage low-income students to pursue a college education and keep higher education affordable are falling short and need to be refocused, simplified and better coordinated, Susan Dynarski, professor of education and public policy, told a U.S. Senate committee Wednesday.


Watch video of Susan Dynarski's testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance.

Download a PDF version of her testimony.

Dynarski suggested a process for applying for aid and incentives that is easier for families, and a more coordinated program that achieves the goal of opening doors for students "who have the ability but not the means to further their education."

Dynarski, who also is an associate professor of economics, testified before the Senate Committee on Finance at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.,, along with a university president, a leader from an education standards initiative, and two representatives of tax-related organizations.

Dynarski told the committee that student aid and tax incentives, specifically Pell Grants and the American Opportunity Tax Credit, aren't meeting their intended goals of getting more low-income students into colleges, and that the educational attainment gap continues to widen.

"Education has long been a vehicle for opportunity in our country, a path to prosperity for every class," Dynarski testified. "Growing gaps between rich and poor in educational attainment threaten this vision of economic mobility. We are in danger of devolving into a rigid, caste society, in which the children of the poor are destined to low education and menial work."