Spending Bill Jeopardizes College Loans

The $388 billion spending bill passed by Congress Saturday may be 3,000 pages, but there's one page missing. It's the page that protected student loans, particularly those known as Pell Grants,the country's primary scholarship program.

The government moved to change its formula for college aid last year, but was blocked by Congress. Now, however, no such language appears in the appropriations bill lawmakers are considering, clearing the way for the government to scale back college grants for hundreds of thousands of low-income students.

Nearly 100,000 more students may lose their federal grants entirely, as Congress considers legislation that could place more of the financial burden for college on students and their families.

Who's responsible for this? Bush and the Republicans:

...the bill approved yesterday, brokered by Congressional leaders in a conference committee, eliminates a provision that would have barred the Education Department from changing the eligibility formula. A Senate staff member who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the White House insisted the provision be dropped, citing the shortfall, and House Republicans were adamant in their agreement to do so.

In dollars and cents, it means:

The exact impact of the new rules is difficult to predict, but had the new formula gone into effect last year, it would have prevented about $270 million from being spent on Pell grants, the nation's primary scholarship program, the Congressional Research Service found. Many students, perhaps more than a million, would have received smaller grants, many education experts estimated. And about 84,000 students would have lost their Pell grants altogether, the research service reported.

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