Many smart students forgo college in the mistaken belief that they cannot afford it. The financial aid system, which is intended to increase opportunities for low-income students, is largely to blame.
Students must fight through thickets of paperwork and endure long delays to obtain definitive information about the aid for which they qualify. Many give up before they learn that college is affordable.
But there is hope on the horizon. In a rare case of cross-aisle cooperation, congressional Democrats and Republicans are working on legislation that could simplify and speed the aid process. One bill, sponsored in the Senate by Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, and Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, would cut the lengthy federal aid application, now longer than the typical 1040 Internal Revenue Service form, to just two questions.