Stimulus would give colleges and students unprecedented influx of aid

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - The stimulus plan emerging in Washington could offer an unprecedented boost in financial help for college students trying to pursue a degree while they ride out the recession.

Both the House and Senate bills call for the largest-ever funding increase for Pell Grants, the government's chief college aid program for low-income students.

Most Pell recipients come from families earning less than $40,000. And supporters note the new Pell dollars would be spent almost immediately while also paying off down the road.

The stimulus package could also hand out billions to the states to kick-start idled campus construction projects and help prevent tuition increases at a time when families can least afford them.

But cuts of $40 billion for state and local governments in the Senate version are a big disappointment for college leaders. House-Senate negotiations will determine whether education aid to the states is relatively modest or massive.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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