GW Brief: Congress increases maximum Pell Grants

Congress took an important step toward making college tuition more affordable for students in need of financial aid by passing the College Cost Reduction and Access Act earlier this month.

Twenty billion dollars Congress previously allocated for student loan providers will now go toward students directly in the form of Pell Grants. The bill requires the maximum Pell Grant to increase from $4,310 to $5,400 by 2012. Additionally, the interest rate on federally backed interest loans will decrease over the next four years from about seven percent to about three percent.

“Education is the single best investment that we can make in the future of our country,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “With the passage of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, Congress is making sure that our nation’s young people will be driven by their dreams, not weighed down by debt.”

Pelosi added that the act is the largest investment in college financial aid since Congress signed the GI Bill into law in 1944.

Students at GW hope to benefit from this legislation.

“(The loan) is very much appreciated,” said Ed Goodwin, a sophomore who took out a Stafford Loan. “I go to the most expensive school in the country, and I’m going to be in huge debt when I graduate.”

Luke Swarthout, the higher education advocate for the United States Public Interest Research Groups, a lobbying group, called the legislation “the most meaningful higher education reform in more than 15 years.”

The bill passed by margins of 79 to 12 in the Senate and 292 to 97 in the House. President George W. Bush has announced that he will sign the bill into law.

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