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Improving college outcomes: A modern approach to financing higher education

Monday, October 21, 2013

On October 21st The Hamilton Project hosted a forum focusing on the evolving role of higher education in American society and release three new policy proposals by outside experts on how changes in student lending and financial-aid policies can help improve college outcomes.Thought leaders in higher education from around the country joined the discussion, including Vassar College President Catharine Bond Hill; University of Texas Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa; LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow; University of North Carolina President Thomas Ross; Wesleyan University President Michael Roth; and Brookings’ Brown Center on Education Policy Director Grover “Russ” Whitehurst.

Two roundtable discussions focused on the new policy proposals addressing ways to strengthen the Pell Grant program to meet the needs of a modern economy, reform the federal student loan repayment system, and expand the availability of information on the “net” vs. “sticker” price of attending college. The final panel, moderated by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, addressed key questions currently facing policymakers: How should education policymakers and administrators weigh economic considerations, like the employment opportunities and incomes of graduates, relative to other goals of a liberal arts education? Given the growing diversity of higher-education students and the institutions they attend—ranging from select liberal arts colleges to state university systems to vocationally-oriented community colleges—how can federal policy accommodate the varying goals of these institutions and their students?

Following each panel, the participants took audience questions.



Roger C. Altman
Founder and Executive Chairman, Evercore

Restructuring Our Approach to Financial Aid

Author: Sandy Baum
Senior Fellow, The Urban Institute; Research Professor, The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development

Author: Judith Scott Clayton
Assistant Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College,
Columbia University

Author: Phillip Levine
Katharine Coman and A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Economics, Wellesley College

Discussant: Gail Mellow
President, LaGuardia Community College

Discussant: Catharine Bond Hill
President, Vassar College

Facilitator: Melissa Kearney
Director, The Hamilton Project


Making Borrowing Work for Today’s Students Through Income-Contingent Repayment

Author: Susan Dynarski
Professor of Education, Public Policy and Economics, University of Michigan

Discussant: Catharine Bond Hill
President, Vassar College

Discussant: Greg Kaplan
Assistant Professor of Economics, Princeton University

Discussant: Grover “Russ” Whitehurst
Senior Fellow and Director, Brown Center on Education Policy,
The Brookings Institution

Facilitator: Michael Greenstone
3M Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Role of Higher Education in American Society

Discussant: Francisco G. Cigarroa
Chancellor, The University of Texas System

Discussant: Michael S. Roth
President, Wesleyan University

Discussant: Thomas Ross
President, The University of North Carolina

Facilitator: Robert E. Rubin
Co-Chair, Council on Foreign Relations;
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary