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Pell Grant shift in budget. (Capitol briefs).

A little-noticed provision in the Bush administration's new education budget could bring major changes in how the federal government awards Pell Grants.

As part of its fiscal 2003 budget plan, the U.S. Department of Education is asking Congress for authority to adjust Pell Grant awards based on economic and fiscal conditions. If enacted into law, the department could make adjustments until Feb. 1 to financial aid awards made for the following September.

Under current law, Congress sets the maximum Pell Grant through annual budget legislation every fall, in some cases nine to 10 months before the start of the next academic year.

Education Department officials say the change would help them better manage a program that is expected to run a $1.3 billion shortfall this year. Congress has set a $4,000 maximum Pell Grant for this year, but increases in student demand -- fueled by the recession -- are causing the shortfall.

Some education lobbyists oppose the move, however, since many target the annual education budget bill as a way to build political support for Pell. Congress, they say, effectively would lose the power to set Pell Funding should the policy take effect.
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Publication:Community College Week
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 4, 2002
Words:194
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