NY Times publishes "answer on a postcard"

June 19, 2014

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo) have proposed a bipartisan bill to dramatically simplify the college financial aid form. They announced their proposal in the op-ed column, "An Answer on a Postcard," published by The New York Times on June 18, which heavily cites Susan Dynarski's research and policy recommendations. Dynarski first introduced the concept in a policy proposal published in 2007.

"Susan Dynarski, a professor at the University of Michigan, and Judith Scott-Clayton, an assistant professor at Columbia University, have demonstrated that eliminating 90 percent of the application's questions would change the average Pell grant amount by only $54 a year," write Alexander and Bennet in their New York Times announcement. "They maintain that asking only two questions would give the government virtually all of the information it needs to ensure that federal aid is allocated according to need: What is your family size? And what was your household income two years ago?"

The proposal Alexander and Bennet have introduced would replace the 108-question financial aid application form with the same two questions Dynarski and Scott-Clayton proposed seven years ago. "At a time when a college degree is more important than ever for getting a job and making a good living, red tape and confusion are the adversary for millions of students. Adopting a two-question postcard for federal student aid is a sure step toward offering millions of Americans a brighter future."

Susan Dynarski is a professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and a professor of education and economics at the University of Michigan. She is co-founder of the Education Policy Initiative, which engages in applied, policy-relevant education research designed to improve overall educational achievement and outcomes, and has advised the Obama Administration on the findings of her student-aid research.