The opportunity to gain a college education helps advance the American ideals of progress and equality. The precedent for direct aid to students was set by the 1944 G.I. Bill, and expanded in the National Defense Education Act of 1958. The Higher Education Act of 1965, which formed the basis for the current federal student aid system, embodied the principle that all qualified students should be able to attend college, regardless of their financial means. Without financial aid, a majority of students would be unable to go to college.
A college education benefits not only the individual, but our country and economy as a whole. A highly educated work force has become an essential component of economic growth and competitiveness–it is estimated that increases in national educational attainment have accounted for almost 30 percent of the growth in national income in the 20th century. Because they earn more, save more, and are unemployed less frequently, college graduates make fewer demands on the public purse and pay more taxes. When the federal government helps students attend college, it invests in our nation’s future and ensures that students are prepared with the skills to perform the jobs of the 21st century.