A Comparative Study of the Federal Higher Education Student Financial Aid Systems in Brazil, Australia, and the United States

  • Paulo Meyer NascimentoEmail author
  • Manoela Vilela Araújo Resende
Part of the Intercultural Studies in Education book series (ISE)


This chapter compares the federal higher education student financing systems of three countries: Brazil, the United States, and Australia. It poses the question whether recent reforms to the Brazilian system have moved it toward the system used by the United States or Australia and considers what Brazilian policymakers can learn from these systems. This is a relevant debate for at least three reasons. First, the Australian and the U.S. systems represent very different and influential approaches in higher education student financing. Second, the Brazilian system presents both similarities and differences to the other two, raising important questions about the efficiency and sustainability of federal student aid systems. Third, Brazil is a large developing country with rising, but still low, participation rates in higher education, so the success or failure of this country’s ongoing institutional changes may influence future reforms in other countries facing similar problems in terms of higher education student financing. Depending on how reforms in Brazil evolve, the country’s system may become: (1) the first large system based on income contingent loans (ICLs) in the developing world; (2) a complex system of grants and loans; (3) a mixed model with features from both the Australian and U.S. systems.


Higher education Federal student financial aid Brazil Australia United States 

JEL Codes

I22 I23 I28 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paulo Meyer Nascimento
    • 1
    Email author
  • Manoela Vilela Araújo Resende
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA)BrasiliaBrazil
  2. 2.Ministry of Education (MEC)BrasiliaBrazil

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