Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Senate Raises House's Pell Grant Bid

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Senate Raises House's Pell Grant Bid

Article excerpt

Washington UPDATE: Senate Raises House's Pell Grant Bid

New action taken by the House and Senate would seek higher Pell Grants for needy college students.

The Senate, in a bill to rewrite the Higher Education Act, would increase the maximum authorized grant to $5,000 next year, a $2,000 increase above current funding. This HEA bill also would extend the life of other federal financial aid programs and increase ceilings on TRIO programs and programs for minority-serving institutions.

However, experts note that the $5,000 is an authorization -- or maximum ceiling -- for the Pell program. A larger authorization is a symbolic victory, advocates say, because it shows greater support for -- and interest in -- higher education. But Congress still would have to appropriate enough money for such an increase in its annual education spending bill.

The Senate measure would also allow students to borrow money for college at lower interest rates. The current rate of 8.25 percent would drop to 7.43 percent under the proposal, the lowest rate in nearly twenty years.

So far, Pell appears headed for a smaller gain -- a $3,150 maximum grant -- under a spending bill the House is proposing for 1999. …

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