Although the original focus of the federal Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965 was on meeting the needs of low-income students, that focus has shifted over the years to subsidizing students of all income levels, according to a new study by Krista Kafer, senior education policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation. For example, one-quarter of undergraduates from families with incomes of more than $100,000 received financial aid in 2003.
“The increasing use of federal higher education programs by middle-class and wealthy students is costly to taxpayers, contributes to student indebtedness, fosters greater individual and institutional dependency, increases entitlement spending, and contributes to the rising cost of higher education,” Kafer writes.
With HEA up for reauthorization, and with federal financial aid to higher education now totaling more than $100 billion a year in loans, grants, aid, and support services, Kafer suggests Congress should re-focus higher education aid on those who really need it and eliminate subsidies to middle-income and wealthy families.
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The Heritage Foundation’s Backgrounder #1753 by Krista Kafer, “Refocusing Higher Education Aid on Those Who Need It,” issued on April 26, 2004, is available online at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Education/bg1753.cfm.