Bush advances aid reform in budget

In the 2006 fiscal year budget released Monday, President Bush introduced a number of far-reaching financial aid proposals, including the elimination of the federal Perkins loan program.

The administration hopes to use the funding that will be made available as a result of these cuts to enhance support for Pell Grants. Bush laid out plans to increase the maximum Pell Grant amount students receive from $4,050 to $4,550 over the next five years and to eliminate the $4.3 billion shortfall in the federal aid program. Bush has also called for an increase in federal loan limits for freshmen and sophomores.

Yale Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said he had not thoroughly studied the details of the proposal and he was not sure what the ultimate impact of the proposed changes would be, but he said he had mixed feelings.

“I think it is reasonable to keep money focused on support for students’ education, but it sounds like something is being taken away,” Shaw said. “I think the increase in Pell Grants is good [though] because the cost of education is going up.”

Larry Zaglaniczny, the director for congressional relations of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said he was disappointed with some of the elements of the proposal such as the recommendation to freeze the federal work study program and to eliminate several student aid programs. Zaglaniczny also said he was skeptical that the budget would be approved by Congress.

“I have been doing this for 25 years and I have never seen anything like this attempted by the federal government, certainly not by the Department of Education,” Zaglaniczny said. “It’s highly unusual to do something like this.”

The plan is estimated to cost about $28 billion over 10 years, with $19 billion allocated to funding for Pell Grants, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

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