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The Higher Education Committee of 50 ("Forward50")

During the Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization process, proposals abound from various entities that have a stake in higher education. While there are many voices weighing in on reauthorization discussions, there is a particularly strong need for thoughtful, innovative ideas for the future of federal student aid that come from institutional voices. It is imperative to show lawmakers that institutions of higher education are interested, invested, and believe in student equity, success, and outcomes. As the HEA reauthorization process may finally begin slowly moving forward in 2018, the time is ripe for this type of innovative thinking.

In late 2017, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) was awarded a grant to convene a group of forward-thinking campus leaders tasked with developing policy solutions that will help surmount obstacles preventing students from enrolling in, paying for, and graduating from college. NASFAA is using the grant funding, provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to facilitate the Higher Education Committee of 50—or "Forward50"— a group comprised of college presidents, enrollment managers, admissions staff, financial aid and bursar leaders, members of governing boards, students, and other leaders from all sectors of postsecondary institutions. During the work The Forward50 will produce four white papers on specific, pre-identified policy areas related to access, affordability, accountability and transparency. These papers will include practical solutions and recommendations for members of Congress, and will be available to the broader policy community for review and comment prior to finalization.

The primary purposes of the Forward50 are to:

  • Identify emerging policy issues that impact students and the higher education landscape, with a specific focus on the four specific policy areas: access, affordability, transparency, and accountability
  • Create practical solutions and recommendations for members of Congress, which will be available to the broader policy community for review and comment prior to finalization
  • Coalesce around the passed recommendations and present a united front when speaking about them publicly
  • Elevate the principles and positions put forth by the Forward50 after the grant has ended

Members of the Forward50 are engaged, committed and passionate individuals. Altogether they hold memberships with more than 140 other higher education-related professional associations, with many serving in multiple leadership roles.

This page will continue to be updated as the project progresses.

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents nearly 20,000 financial aid professionals at more than 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every 10 undergraduates in the U.S. Based in Washington, DC, NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.