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PART II "Quality" in the Student Financial Aid Programs In Chapters 4 through 6, the pane] reviews the concept of quality as it is perceived in student financial aid programs and the approaches used to control and measure quality. There is little disagreement over the need to consider quality in a program that distributes some $18 billion in direct funds or guarantees, but many issues concerning the approaches currently used are open to discussion. The issues arise from the complex web of federal and institutional relationships that complicate administration and create conflicting interests and views. The panel examined several indicators of quality in student fi- nancial aid as defined and measured by the Department of Education. The most detailed indicators include measures of the incidence of various types of errors in awards. However, we also assembled evi- dence of inefficiencies and/or suboptimal performance in the system, as well as possible causes of unproductive burden on the administer- ing institutions and shortcomings in meeting the needs of students. This review of current "quality" begins with Chapter 4, in which we review the Department of Education's quality control strategy. In Chapter 5, we consider the views of three of the major players in the aid system: the Department of Education, the academic institution, and, most important, the applicant. While others, such as the tax- payer, banks, and guaranty agencies, also have an investment in the 47
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48 QUALITY IN STUDENT FINANCIAL AID PROGRAMS quality of the system, we concentrated on the interaction among the department, students, and the institutions, the three players most di- rectly involved with determining awards. Finally, in Chapter 6, we discuss recent developments concerning the department's data bases. In discussing the adequacy of the Department of Education's quality control information, we point out system activities found to be most in need of quality improvement. In Part III, we look beyond local opti- mization attempts to find more global strategies to improve quality.