"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Who Will Bail Out Pell Grant Applicants?

While the Fed and Congress huddle this evening to figure out how many hundreds of billions will be needed to socialize the losses for the biggest heist in Wall Street history, we must wonder how long needy students will have to wait to see if they will be able to register for school in the Spring. From the NYTimes:
. . . .As of July 31, 800,000 more students had applied for grants than on that date last year, according to the memorandum, which called the increase one of the largest ever year to year.

This year, more than six million low-income college students will receive Pell Grants ranging from $431 to $4,731, federal officials said.

Congress appropriated $14 billion for the grants for the current fiscal year, but because of the increase and because of accumulated shortfalls from previous years, lawmakers will need to add $6 billion in new funds next year or cut the size of the grants, Department of Education officials said.

“There may need to be an announcement in February 2009,” the memorandum warns, that Pell grants for the following academic year will be reduced.

“It’s the mother of all shortfalls,” said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. “There’s more unmet need than anyone predicted.”

The Pell Grant, created in 1972, has long been the most important form of aid to needy students, and for millions, whether recent high school graduates or those who have been working for years, higher education would be impossible without such aid. . . .

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