A panel of education experts and researchers on Sept. 18 proposed a broad reconfiguration of federal policies on financial aid for college, including a simpler application process, Pell grant maximums linked to the consumer price index, and, most radically, federally financed college savings accounts for children in low-income families, reports the New York Times. The panel recommended scrapping the current federal financial aid application, a dauntingly complicated form known as the FAFSA, and having the government get all needed financial information from the Internal Revenue Service. “More tinkering with a system built piecemeal in the last century is no longer an option,” said Sandy Baum, a Skidmore College economics professor who served as co-chairwoman of the panel, the Rethinking Student Aid study group, which was organized by the College Board. Students’ eligibility for Pell Grants, the most important federal aid to needy students, would be based on their family size and adjusted gross income. “It is just imperative for our economic future and our civic future that we invest effectively in more students achieving success in college,” said Michael McPherson, president of the Spencer Foundation and co-chairman of the panel. “One of the challenges is the growing gap between the price of college and families’ ability to pay.” Although the report is certain to get intense scrutiny from Congress and education groups, it is unclear whether the recommendations will win enough support to have much chance of being adopted…

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