This brief utilizes the most recent and rigorous financial aid research to inform state higher education leaders about innovative and effective financial aid practices. By simplifying aid eligibility requirements, improving the aid application process, and engaging in early awareness efforts, states could improve the effectiveness of existing aid programs. Additionally, by targeting aid in ways that encourage college completion, more students (particularly those who are most constrained by finances) will improve their chances of earning postsecondary degrees. In recent years, several states have adopted goals of greatly increasing educational attainment levels, so we argue that innovative financial aid policy reform is one of the necessary steps toward meeting these goals. This brief can inform ongoing policy negotiations between state commissioners of higher education, state education task forces, and education and workforce legislative committees.

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