Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Congress Looking for Ways to Solve Pell Grant Shortfall

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Congress Looking for Ways to Solve Pell Grant Shortfall

Article excerpt

Congress may find a way out of the Pell Grant shortfall yet, based on recent action in the House of Representatives. A declining economy has sent more young adults back to school and created a $1.3 billion shortfall in the nation's primary student aid grant program. After several false starts, Republican leaders have succeeded in allocating $1 billion toward the shortfall in an emergency spending bill used primarily to fund homeland security and the military campaign in Afghanistan.

"If Congress fails to act now, millions of low- and middle-income students could see their badly needed Pell Grants reduced or even eliminated," said William Hansen, deputy secretary of education, before a Senate panel in mid-May.

Until the recent House action, however, every plan to address the shortfall had been a non-starter on Capitol Hill. The Bush administration originally proposed funding the Pell shortfall by cutting lawmakers' pork-barrel education projects, which drew the wrath of both parties. Then it suggested a delay in some student-friendly loan regulations that prompted an outcry from consumer groups.

Where earlier options failed, the next-best solution may be the emergency spending bill, since the Congress must approve this measure to support on-going defense operations. …

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