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Value of Pell Grants Said Declining

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Pell Grants, the federal government's major program to provide financial aid to needy undergraduate students, in recent years have covered a declining proportion of the students' college costs, according to the American Council on Education.

While the Consumer Price Index rose 57 percent between 1978-79 and 1982-83, the council's policy-analysis and research division reports, the average Pell Grant rose by 13 percent, from $921 to $1,023.

At independent universities, the council says, the average Pell Grant covered 14 percent of a student's 1982-83 costs, about two-thirds of what it covered in 1978-79. At public universities the same year, Pell Grants covered about 30 percent of student costs, one-third less than in 1978-79.

The maximum Pell Grant of $1,800, combined with the $2,500 maximum amount allowed under the Guaranteed Student Loan Program, met less than half the average cost of attending an independent university in 1982-83, the council notes.

Before adjourning this month, the Congress approved raising the maximum Pell Grant to $2,100 for 1985-86.

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