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GAO Student Aid Policy Papers

This page provides a compilation of selected papers and reports concerning student financial aid policy from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Antitrust Exemption

  • HIGHER EDUCATION: Schools. Use of the Antitrust Exemption Has Not Significantly Affected College Affordability or Likelihood of Student Enrollment to Date, GAO-06-963, September 2006.

College Costs

  • Postsecondary Education: Financial Trends in Public and Private Nonprofit Institutions, GAO-12-179, January 26, 2012.

  • HIGHER EDUCATION: Tuition Continues to Rise, but Patterns Vary by Institution Type, Enrollment, and Educational Expenditures, GAO-08-245, November 2007.

College Savings

  • Higher Education: A Small Percentage of Families Save in 529 Plans, GAO-13-64, December 12, 2012. Highlights.

Credit Cards

  • CONSUMER FINANCE: College Students and Credit Cards, GAO-01-773, June 2001.

Disaster Assistance

  • DISASTER ASSISTANCE: Federal Efforts to Assist Group Site Residents with Employment, Services for Families with Children, and Transportation, GAO-09-81, December 2008.

Distance Education

  • Higher Education: Use of New Data Could Help Improve Oversight of Distance Education, GAO-12-39, November 17, 2011. Highlights.

Education Tax Benefits

  • Higher Education: Improved Tax Information Could Help Families Pay for College, GAO-12-560, May 18, 2012. (highlights, podcast)

  • HIGHER EDUCATION: Multiple Higher Education Tax Incentives Create Opportunities for Taxpayers to Make Costly Mistakes, GAO-08-717t (abstract, highlights), May 1, 2008.

  • POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION: Multiple Tax Preferences and Title IV Student Aid Programs Create a Complex Education Financing Environment, GAO-07-262T, December 5, 2006.

  • STUDENT AID AND POSTSECONDARY TAX PREFERENCES: Limited Research Exists on Effectiveness of Tools to Assist Students and Families through Title IV Student Aid and Tax Preferences, GAO-05-684, July 2005.

  • STUDENT AID AND TAX BENEFITS: Better Research and Guidance Will Facilitate Comparison of Effectiveness and Student Use, GAO-02-751, September 2002.

For-Profit Colleges

  • For-Profit Schools: Experiences of Undercover Students Enrolled in Online Classes at Selected Colleges, GAO-12-150, October 31, 2011. Highlights.

  • DOD Education Benefits: Increased Oversight of Tuition Assistance Program Is Needed, GAO-11-300, March 1, 2011.

  • Education of Military Dependent Students: Better Information Needed to Assess Student Performance, GAO-11-231, March 1, 2011. Highlights.

  • Higher Education: Stronger Federal Oversight Needed to Enforce Ban on Incentive Payments to School Recruiters, GAO-11-10, October 7, 2010. Highlights.

  • For-Profit Schools: Large Schools and Schools that Specialize in Healthcare Are More Likely to Rely Heavily on Federal Student Aid, GAO-11-4, October 4, 2010.

  • Postsecondary Education: Many States Collect Graduates' Employment Information, but Clearer Guidance on Student Privacy Requirements Is Needed, GAO-10-927, September 27, 2010.

  • Higher Education: Information on Incentive Compensation Violations Substantiated by the U.S. Department of Education, GAO-10-370R, February 23, 2010. (summary)

  • PROPRIETARY SCHOOLS: Improved Department of Education Oversight Needed to Help Ensure Only Eligible Students Receive Federal Student Aid, Statement of George A. Scott, Director Education, Workforce, and Income Security, GAO-10-127T, October 14, 2009.

  • PROPRIETARY SCHOOLS: Stronger Department of Education Oversight Needed to Help Ensure Only Eligible Students Receive Federal Student Aid, GAO-09-600, August 2009. (highlights)

Graduate and Professional Students

  • Graduate Medical Education: Trends in Training and Student Debt GAO-09-438r, May 4, 2009.

Grant Programs

  • Low-Income and Minority Serving Institutions: Management Attention to Long-standing Concerns Needed to Improve Education's Oversight of Grant Programs. GAO-09-309, August 17, 2009. (highlights)

  • Department of Education: Student Assistance General Provisions; Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program; Federal Pell Grant Program; Academic Competitiveness Grant Program and National Science and Mathematics Access To Retain Talent Grant Program, GAO-09-756r, June 4, 2009.

  • FEDERAL STUDENT AID: Recent Changes to Eligibility Requirements and Additional Efforts to Promote Awareness Could Increase Academic Competitiveness and SMART Grant Participation, GAO-09-343 (highlights), March 2009.

  • Department of Education: The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program and Other Federal Student Aid Programs, GAO-08-969r, July 15, 2008.

International Students

  • HIGHER EDUCATION: Approaches to Attract and Fund International Students in the United States and Abroad, GAO-09-379 (highlights), April 2009.

Law School

  • HIGHER EDUCATION: Issues Related to Law School Cost and Access, GAO-10-20, October 26, 2009.

Minority Scholarships

  • Higher Education: Information on Minority-Targeted Scholarships HEHS-94-77, January 14, 1994. (Summary)

Need Analysis

  • Department of Education's Update of the State and Other Tax Allowance for Student Aid Award Year 2005-2006, GAO-05-408R, March 22, 2005. (Note: Average EFC increase of $440 for those with an increase. 35% would experience a decrease, average decrease of $130. 81,000 (1.5%) would no longer be eligible for the grant.)

  • Student Financial Aid: Need Determination Could Be Enhanced through Improvements in Education.s Estimate of Applicants. State Tax Payments GAO-05-105, January 21, 2005.

Student Aid Administration

  • FEDERAL STUDENT AID: Additional Management Improvements Would Clarify Strategic Direction and Enhance Accountability, GAO-02-255, April 2002.

Student Health Insurance

  • Health Insurance: Most College Students Are Covered through Employer-Sponsored Plans, and Some Colleges and States Are Taking Steps to Increase Coverage, GAO-08-389, March 28, 2008. (Overview, Highlights)

Student Loans

  • Student Loans: Federal Web-based Tool on Private Loans Would Pose Implementation Challenges and May Be Unnecessary, GAO-10-990, September 29, 2010.

  • FOREIGN MEDICAL SCHOOLS: Education Should Improve Monitoring of Schools That Participate in the Federal Student Loan Program, GAO-10-412, June 2010.

  • Higher Education: Factors Lenders Consider in Making Lending Decisions for Private Education Loans, GAO-10-86R, November 17, 2009.

  • Federal Student Loans: Audits and Reviews of the Federal Family Education Loan and Federal Direct Loan Programs, GAO-09-992R, September 30, 2009.

  • FEDERAL FAMILY EDUCATION LOAN PROGRAM: Eliminating the Exceptional Performer Designation Would Result in Substantial Savings without Adversely Affecting the Loan Program, GAO-07-1087, July 2007.

  • FEDERAL FAMILY EDUCATION LOAN PROGRAM: Increased Department of Education Oversight of Lender and School Activities Needed to Help Ensure Program Compliance, GAO-07-750, July 2007.

  • STUDENT CONSOLIDATION LOANS: Potential Effects of Making Fiscal Year 2006 Consolidation Loans Exclusively through the Direct Loan Program, GAO-06-195, December 2005.

  • FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS: Challenges in Estimating Federal Subsidy Costs, GAO-05-874, September 2005.

  • FEDERAL FAMILY EDUCATION LOAN PROGRAM: More Oversight Is Needed for Schools That Are Lenders, GAO-05-184, January 2005.

  • STUDENT CONSOLIDATION LOANS: Further Analysis Could Lead to Enhanced Default Assumptions for Budgetary Cost Estimates, GAO-04-843, August 2004.

  • STUDENT LOAN PROGRAMS: Lower Interest Rates and Higher Loan Volume Have Increased Federal Consolidation Loan Costs, GAO-04-568T, March 17, 2004.

  • DIRECT STUDENT LOAN PROGRAM: Management Actions Could Enhance Customer Service, GAO-04-107, November 2003.

  • STUDENT LOAN PROGRAMS: As Federal Costs of Loan Consolidation Rise, Other Options Should Be Examined, GAO-04-101, October 2003.

  • STUDENT FINANCIAL AID: Monitoring Aid Greater Than Federally Defined Need Could Help Address Student Loan Indebtedness, GAO-03-508, April 2003.

  • Alternative Market Mechanisms for the Student Loan Program, GAO-02-84SP, December 18, 2001.

  • Student Loans: Default Rates Need to Be Computed More Appropriately, GAO/HEHS-99-135, July 1999.


  • COLLEGE TEXTBOOKS: Enhanced Offerings Appear to Drive Recent Price Increases, GAO-05-806, July 2005.

Veterans Education Benefits

  • Veterans' Education Benefits: Enhanced Guidance and Collaboration Could Improve Administration of the Post-9/11 GI Bill Program, GAO-11-356R, May 5, 2011 (29 pages).

  • VA Education Benefits: Actions Taken, but Outreach and Oversight Could Be Improved, GAO-11-256, February 28 (68 pages, Highlights).

  • VETERANS' EDUCATION BENEFITS: Comparison of Federal Assistance Awarded to Veteran and Nonveteran Students, GAO-02-368, February 2002.

  • VA Student Financial Aid: Potential Effect of Providing Education Tax Benefit Eligibilitv to Students Receiving VA Assistance, HEHS-00-40R, January 27, 2000.

Other Resources

Additional reports may be found on the GAO web site.

Another source of student aid policy analysis reports is the Congressional Research Service (CRS). However, CRS reports are not normally made public unless the member of Congress who requested the report decides to release it. Several of these reports can be found on the OpenCRS web site.


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