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Education Department Asks for $2.6 Billion in Katrina Aid

The Department of Education estimates that approximately 372,000 students at all grade levels in Louisiana and Mississippi have been unable to attend classes since Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Sept. 29. Public and private schools and school districts have come to the aid of many of the displaced students. Now, the Education Department is requesting that Congress provide up to $2.6 billion in funding for elementary, secondary and postsecondary relief.

The department is proposing up to $227 million in funding to help displaced adults pay their student loans and to assist colleges and universities that take in these students. The funds would also aid colleges and universities in storm-ravaged areas. Additionally, the department is proposing to forgive six months of interest on all student loans for borrowers in hard-hit areas in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. These moneys would also give colleges and universities $1,000 for every displaced student they take in.

To further help colleges and universities — including community colleges — get back to business in Katrina’s wake, schools that have temporarily closed would be able to keep student aid they’ve already received for the new academic year. Also, students at these schools would not have to repay federal aid they received for the current term.

— By David Pluviose

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