While it's still a long way from becoming law, the first published draft of the economic stimulus legislation created by the House of Representatives includes billions of dollars for higher education, including several provisions designed to make paying for school easier. The bill still has to be approved by both the House and the Senate (which is drafting its own stimulus legislation) then signed by the President, so it remains to be seen how many of the following appropriations will make it into the final version of the stimulus package.
The stimulus bill would increase funding to several federal student financial aid programs, as well as providing emergency funds to states to prevent further drastic budget cuts, and designating money to help colleges, especially ones affected by disasters, make needed improvements and repairs. If the bill is passed, federal work-study will receive a boost in funding, as will Pell Grants, eliminating a projected budget shortfall for the program. Unsubsidized Stafford Loans will increase by $2,000 per year, bringing the loan limit to $7,500 or more for undergraduate students. The maximum Pell Grant award will also increase to $5,350. In addition, lender subsidies will also increase, hopefully enticing more banks to remain in the FFEL program. The Hope tax credit and a provision that allowed families to deduct up to $4,000 in educational expenses will also be combined into a new $2,500 tax credit, through which families with too little income to file taxes could still receive $1,000.
As Congress hammers out the details of the stimulus bill in coming weeks, these numbers will likely change. A more detailed breakdown of these and other proposals affecting colleges and universities is available from Inside Higher Ed.