California improving $2 billion financial aid system based on new report

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC—The California Student Aid Commission voted last month to adopt a number of policy reforms to improve the state’s $2 billion financial aid system. The unanimous vote followed the recommendations in a new report “Expanding Opportunity, Reducing Debt: Reforming California Student Aid,” co-authored by RTI International in collaboration with The Century Foundation (TCF), a nonpartisan think tank that led the project and developed the recommendations. 

The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) approved a number of proposed changes to policy based on the report, including expanding and improving communications efforts so students have reliable and timely information about student aid. Other proposed changes include creating a Fund for Innovation in College Affordability and taking steps to increase the state’s investment in Cal Grants, the largest source of California state funded student financial aid.

RTI researchers conducted rigorous research to support the report’s recommendations. These efforts, which included tracing the legislative history of the state’s aid programs, identifying promising financial aid reforms in other states and countries, and analyzing feedback from more than 50 key stakeholders, ensured that the report contained beneficial and comprehensive recommendations that were in line with the realities of the costs of college students currently face. 

“Student debt can affect many life decisions from future employment to homeownership. We hope this report provides a clear path for lawmakers to strengthen California’s financial aid system and help more students from all backgrounds graduate debt-free,” said David Radwin, senior research associate at RTI International and contributor to the report. Other major contributors included RTI senior research associate Elisabeth Hensley and RTI education research analyst Erin Dunlop Velez.

In addition to adopting several recommendations detailed in the report, CSAC will hold a public meeting in June to consider additional recommendations such as the streamlining and consolidation of financial aid programs.  

Highlights

  • The California Student Aid Commission voted last month to adopt a number of policy reforms to improve the state’s $2 billion financial aid system
  • The unanimous vote followed the recommendations in a new report “Expanding Opportunity, Reducing Debt: Reforming California Student Aid,” co-authored by RTI International in collaboration with The Century Foundation
  • The California Student Aid Commission approved a number of proposed changes to policy based on the report, including expanding and improving communications efforts so students have reliable and timely information about student aid