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Bills on College Aid Advance in Congress

By Alyson Klein — July 17, 2007 1 min read

The House approved a Democratic-backed bill last week that would boost federal college aid by about $18 billion over the next five years, by trimming $19 billion in subsidies to student lenders. It would also reduce the federal budget deficit by about $1 billion.

The measure, which was approved 273-149 on July 11, would increase maximum Pell Grants by a total of $500 over the next five years. Under current law, the maximum Pell Grant during the 2007-08 academic year will be $4,310. The bill would also cut interest rates on some federally guaranteed student loans in half, from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent.

The legislation would provide up to $16,000 in grants for undergraduate students committed to teaching for four years in shortage areas, such as special education, in high-poverty schools.

The White House on July 10 threatened a veto of the bill if it reaches President Bush’s desk because it believes the bill would create new mandatory spending requirements and does not target enough aid to low-income students.

Meanwhile, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on June 20 approved a bill that would combine the three grant programs that help states and universities prepare and recruit K-12 teachers into a single initiative that would enable colleges to collaborate with high-need districts.

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A version of this article appeared in the July 18, 2007 edition of Education Week

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