Higher Education

Trying to figure out what taxpayers are getting for college financial aid

Limits on data, legal obstacles, make it impossible to tell

The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education. Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

Taxpayers spend $140 billion a year on grants and loans for college students. Our friends at Decode DC ask: Is the investment paying off?

The answer is that it’s impossible to tell, thanks to limits on accountability, many of them embedded into law and fiercely defended by the higher-education lobby. While universities have to report their graduation rates, there’s no centralized place to find out whether low-income students who receive financial aid do—on an institution-by-institution basis, or nationally.

This coverage comes against the backdrop of the administration watering down its proposed rating system, which would have allowed students and their families to obtain information like this and compare campuses. Colleges and universities argue that the most efficient way of tracking graduation rates threatens student privacy.

Listen to the podcast here.

The Hechinger Report provides in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting on education that is free to all readers. But that doesn't mean it's free to produce. Our work keeps educators and the public informed about pressing issues at schools and on campuses throughout the country. We tell the whole story, even when the details are inconvenient. Help us keep doing that.

Join us today.

Letters

Jon Marcus

Jon Marcus, higher-education editor, has written about higher education for the Washington Post, USA Today, Time, the Boston Globe, Washington Monthly, is North America higher-education… See Archive

Letters to the Editor

Send us your thoughts

At The Hechinger Report, we publish thoughtful letters from readers that contribute to the ongoing discussion about the education topics we cover. Please read our guidelines for more information.

By submitting your name, you grant us permission to publish it with your letter. We will never publish your email. You must fill out all fields to submit a letter.





No letters have been published at this time.