Cutting the College Price TAG
Feb 4, 2021
Experts from the RAND Corporation prepared this independent report on New Jersey's Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) program for low-income college students. Leaders in New Jersey are evaluating TAG to explore how the program was designed, how it is working, and how it might be improved. The findings also relate to federal policy and to other state aid programs.
A Review of Options and Evidence
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Experts from the RAND Corporation prepared this independent report on New Jersey's Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) program for low-income college students. TAG is the nation's most generous state-funded financial aid program on a per-resident-undergraduate basis. Currently, TAG distributes around $475 million in grants per year, and an award covers about 40 percent of the average recipient's tuition and fees. Recent evidence shows positive impacts of the program on graduation. Leaders in New Jersey are further evaluating TAG to explore how the program design has evolved and how it might be improved.
The authors used new data sources to build actionable evidence on each of the issues put before a legislatively mandated TAG Study Commission. These issues include TAG recipients' graduation rates, the history of program design choices and funding, alternative eligibility calculations, and alignment with federal methods. The authors drew on conversations with the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority and the commission, analysis of student-level data from New Jersey, analysis of institution-level data from the College Scorecard, and context from other states and broader research on college affordability. The authors evaluated policy options discussed by commission members and put forth some added considerations that could be important for the state and for other states with need-based aid programs.
Call to Evaluate the Tuition Aid Grant Program
Issues for the TAG Program
Policy Options for TAG
The research described in this report was sponsored by the ECMC Foundation and conducted by RAND Education and Labor.
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