Student Aid Issues at Forefront for New Congress
One of the first bills introduced in the 107th Congress, H.R. 124, calls for full funding of Pell Grants to provide the maximum benefit to all needy students. The plan from Rep. Ric Keller, R-Fla., was immediately referred to the House Education and the Workforce Committee, which sets financial aid policy.
Most advocates also expect President Bush to act early on his plan to “front-load” Pell Grants by providing more aid to freshmen and sophomores. Bush also has talked about an extra Pell allotment for needy students who pursue math and science study.
Front-loading is theorized to reduce the number of early college dropouts.
“The idea is that once a student gets past the first and second years, they are more likely to persist,” says J. Noah Brown, federal relations director for the Association of Community College Trustees. But he adds that some advocates are wary of the concept.
One key signal is whether Bush will put a front-loading plan in his first education budget request, Brown says. The new president must submit a budget to Congress in February.
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