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Higher Education: Multiple Higher Education Tax Incentives Create Opportunities for Taxpayers to Make Costly Mistakes

GAO-08-717T Published: May 01, 2008. Publicly Released: May 01, 2008.
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Federal assistance helps students and families pay for postsecondary education through several policy tools--grant and loan programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and more recently enacted tax preferences. This testimony summarizes our 2005 report and provides updates on (1) how Title IV assistance compares to that provided through the tax code (2) the extent to which tax filers effectively use education tax preferences, (3) potential benefits and costs of simplifying federal student aid, and (4) what is known about the effectiveness of federal assistance. This hearing is an opportunity to consider whether changes should be made in the government's overall strategy for providing such assistance or to the individual programs and tax provisions that provide the assistance. This statement is based on updates to previously published GAO work and reviews of relevant literature.

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Aid for educationCost analysisCost controlCost effectiveness analysisDirect loansEducation or training costsEducation program evaluationEducational grantsFederal aid programsFederal grantsFinancial analysisFinancial managementHigher educationIncome taxesProgram managementStrategic planningStudent financial aidStudent loansTax administrationTaxesTaxpayersProgram goals or objectivesProgram implementation