That is meant to address the “low take-up rate” of federal government assistance available to families who are put off by the complexity of filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which has 127 questions.
McCain also has spoken in favor of simplifying the loan process getting tax credits, and both candidates have called for better information so parents can become better loan shoppers.
Democratic Swollen Wish List
Such issues are critical because only a tiny fraction of the the nation's 17 million college students come from families that can afford to finance their education without assistance.
Most rely on some form of federal support, which comes in the form of direct and indirect loan programs that guarantee private lenders.
Only 20 percent of Washington’s aid comes in the form of grants for the neediest students.
Whoever assumes the presidency next January will find a very challenging budget environment that will make any increased support for higher education politically difficult, said Travis Reindl, of Making Opportunity Affordable, an education advocacy group.
“There will have to be day of reckoning, ” said Reindl. “There are a lot of mouths at the table to feed here and not a lot of extra scraps to go around.”
Disparity and Financial Literacy
But for all the media attention on the dramatic cost increases at the country’s most elite institutions, higher education is well within reach for most Americans.
More than 80 percent of students attend public schools — 40 percent of these are in community colleges — and nearly half of students pay less than $2,550 annually for in-state tuition and fees, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released in November. Three out of five students pay less than $4,750 per year.
What some call undue media attention may help explain why parents regularly overestimate college costs.