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Pell Grant Increase Approved by Senate Panel

Jun 26, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

On Tuesday, a Senate panel approved a budget that would increase, among other things, the Pell Grant funding for the 2009 school year. Currently, students who demonstrate financial need—as determined by a Department of Education's FAFSA calculation—can receive no more than $4,300 in Pell Grant money, but not all eligible students receive the full sum.   For the upcoming year, the Pell Grant cap will be $4,731. If the Senate panel’s budget is approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee and by the Senate, students could be eligible for up to $4,800.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Senate panel’s bill would also provide new funding for the TRIO program, a seven-part financial aid initiative created to aid students from disadvantaged backgrounds and those facing circumstances that might hinder their academic pursuits. Additionally, it would provide colleges and universities with more money to pay for the Perkins Loan forgiveness program, one wherein colleges cancel the loans of students who enter select public service fields.

Today, the new initiative will move from the Senate panel to the Senate Appropriations Committee, and, if approved, it will be voted on by the Senate. Any differences between the Senate and House versions will have to be ironed out, and, only then, will President Bush have the option of signing.

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House of Representatives, White House Agree on College GI Bill

Jun 19, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

The House of Representatives plans to vote today on the latest version of the GI Bill, a law aimed at increasing the college financial aid awarded to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Associated Press stated that Congress and the White House have reached an agreement on the bill's provisions, and that approval by the House and the President is expected.

Initially, the members of the House expressed disapproval of a major provision that would pay for not only veteran needs, but also for the war in Iraq. Rather than pass both portions of the bill as was done by the Senate--based on its version--the House ignored the Iraq allocation and agreed to set money aside for veterans pursuing a college education.

When the bill came back to the House for revision, a new agreement was settled upon, and approval of Bush’s request for an additional $162 billion to pay for the wars is expected. As before, the House has agreed to offer veterans who participated in the war for at least three years enough money to cover the costs of tuition at the most expensive college or university in their state, with additional funds to cover living expenses. The value of maximum benefits will more than double the current contribution for each veteran's college education, reported the Associated Press.

Though most agree that some additional funding should be awarded to keep up with the increasing costs of a college education, ones that are rising at rates that outpace inflation, some worry that too much was being allocated for the cause. Conservative Democrats have expressed concern that the bill could not be covered by cutting funding to other sectors, and that the bill was irresponsible considering the nation’s financial circumstances.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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President Wants Financial Aid Transferability Provision in GI Bill

Jun 6, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

After threatening to veto a bill aimed at boosting financial aid to veterans who pursued a postsecondary education, the president is now expected to ask Congress for even more funding. The White House has indicated that should a new provision allowing troops to transfer their education benefits to families be added, President Bush would be more inclined to sign.

The surprising turn of events is not likely to go over well with conservative Democrats, suggested an Associate Press article. Though many supported the idea of awarding sufficient aid to cover a four-year degree at the most expensive state university, some party members are weary about increasing the current proposal by $25 billion.  Worried that the sufficient funding could not be raised by simply cutting back in other areas, they are not expected to concede. When combined with the bill's provisions to increase funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the final request could near or exceed Bush’s initial call for a $108 billion cap.

Referred to as the 21st Century GI Bill of Rights, the veteran benefits portion of the bill also requests unemployment compensation, aid to farmers and highway construction funds, stated the ArmyTimes, all of which could make an agreement more difficult, even if Congress agrees to add Bush's provisions. The bill will next be reevaluated by the House where the new proposal and the Senate version of the bill will be considered.

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Senate Passes Bill Boosting Veteran College Aid

May 23, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Following a controversial House tactic for approving only a part of their veteran tuition bill, the Senate today agreed upon their bill in whole. Based on the Senate version, veterans who have served in the military for a minimum of three years following the September 11 attacks would receive enough financial assistance to cover tuition at the most expensive public college or university in their state. A monthly stipend to be used for housing costs would also be provided for eligible veterans. A more divisive bill amendment—one that would set aside billions for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars—was approved by Senate but denied by the House. Rather than accept the bill in its entirety, the House decided to break the draft into three parts, voting only against the war funding portion.

Complaining that they were duped into believing the government would pay for an entire education, numerous veterans felt that the funds they received were insufficient to cover much of their college needs. The original G.I. Bill of Rights, a law created after WWII, provided troops with enough funds to complete their degree. Though financial appropriations were periodically increased, the money they receive no longer pays for all or most of the average student’s postsecondary education.

To pass the veteran tuition bill, the Senate and House will have to first hash out their differences and send a unified version to the president. Both requirements may prove difficult. Even if both chambers compromise on their ideas, the bill will have to be approved by President Bush who publicly stated that he would not support federal student aid exceeding his $108 billion cap. He was quoted by the AP as saying, “I will work with Congress on these veterans' benefits .... But the $108 billion is $108 billion.”

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House Passes Tuition Bill for Veterans

May 16, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

On Thursday, the House passed a bill increasing the amount of federal aid awarded to college students who were veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though approved, the process was anything but smooth.

When it was introduced to the House, the tuition-benefits measure was just one part of a bill calling for additional war funding and a new troop withdrawal timeline. To avoid having to choose between appropriating additional war funds and aiding returning veterans, House Democrats split the bill up into three parts, only voting against the new war funding measure. After angry Republicans sat the vote out, the war-spending amendment was defeated. The provisions for a troop-withdrawal timeline and college and unemployment benefits, however, were passed.

The veteran education amendment would cover the tuition of eligible veterans as long as it did not exceed the most expensive public state university tuition in the veteran's area of residence. Those who decided to attend a private college where tuition surpassed that limit would receive the maximum public tuition as well as a dollar-for-dollar match for any additional aid provided to the student by that university.

As promising as the bill sounds to veterans, the odds are stacked against the probability of presidential and Senate approval. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, numerous senators disagree with the idea that federal student aid funds should be raised through taxes on the wealthy, and President Bush is at odds with the timeline and expensive domestic-spending provisions.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Veteran Aid Proves Insufficient for College Education

May 9, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Young adults often join the army hoping that their contributions will serve the nation's good and aid them in affording a quality education. Army.com admits that, “Ninety percent of servicemembers enter the armed forces for the educational benefits.” Unfortunately, an increasing number of veterans are finding their promised aid insufficient in paying for tuition and other costs.

In an interview with MTV, veteran Evan Aanerud expressed his surprise upon finding that, even with financial assistance, he would have to work full time to cover college expenses. When Evan returned from Iraq and enrolled in the California Polytechnic State University, he received only $430 each month. “That’s about the cost of one-quarter of the books, and that’s about all that I got,” he said.

Even servicemen who receive the maximum $1,100 per month as determined by the GI Bill—a law made to cover each veteran’s college expenses---often find the assistance lacking. With College Board estimating the four-year cost of a public, four-year, in-state university at $54,356 and the private one at $129,228, the maximum $39,636 veteran budget just doesn’t cut it.

But there is hope. If a revised version of the current Montgomery GI Bill is passed, veteran students may soon receive a federal student aid boost. According to the proposal, the new GI Bill would pay the full cost of in-state tuition (up to the cost of the most expensive in-state public university) in addition to a housing and book stipend. With bipartisan support, the bill has a chance at passage if opposing congressmen can be convinced that costs are manageable. Having put their lives on the line to serve the nation, many veterans feel that it's the least they deserve.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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President Signs Student Loan Access Bill

May 8, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

As expected, President Bush signed into law the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008. After receiving bipartisan support from the House and the Senate, the bill aimed at ensuring student loan availability was approved by the president.

Worried that the departure of student lenders from the FFEL Program could make student loans more difficult to obtain, legislators hurried to secure a backup plan. According to House Representative George Miller, “The bill carries no new cost for taxpayers.”

The Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008 indicates that:

o The limit on federal loans will soon increase. Students will be able to borrow $2,000 more to cover tuition and other costs.

o Parents will have more time to save for PLUS Loans. Rather than having to pay as soon as money is disbursed, they will have until six months after the child graduates before initial payments are due.

o Families slightly behind on their mortgages or medical bills may still be eligible for PLUS Loans.

o The Secretary of Education has the authority to advance federal funds to student lenders and guaranty agencies acting as lenders of last resort if the lenders run out of capital.

o Shall a lender of last resort plan be put into practice, guaranty agencies acting as lenders will have to abide by rules and restrictions similar to those governing FFEL lenders.

o Congress may call on the Federal Financing Bank to consider injecting money into the student loan market at no cost to the taxpayers.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Congress Approves Aid to Student Lenders

May 2, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

After passing the Senate and the House in varying formats, a compromise was reached on legislation that would help lenders stay afloat in a troublesome student loan market. The Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008 was sent to the President yesterday, and rapid approval is expected.

If signed into law, the bill would give the Secretary of Education the right to buy loans from struggling lenders, thus providing them the capital needed to offer new student loans. Worried that lenders may continue to depart from the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program—as fifty have already done—legislators have been scurrying to provide financial assistance before the school year begins. Though the law would only serve as a backup plan, the hope is that knowledge of a federal cushion would make both lenders and students more willing to engage in business.

To decrease student dependence on private lenders, ones generally offering loans options that are more expensive and less flexible than those offered by FFEL lenders, the maximum sum a student could borrow from the government was also increased. According to The Christian Science Monitor, the caps on unsubsidized loans available to students of any income level would increase by $2,000 for each school year. Dependent students would now be able to borrow up to $31,000 for their undergraduate education.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Sallie Mae Seeks Financial Support from the Government

Apr 22, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

To alleviate the affects of the intensifying credit crunch, Sallie Mae has been lobbying for government assistance. In past months, student lenders have been struggling to find buyers for both their loans and their loan securities. Sallie Mae, the largest student lender in the business, has turned to the government for assistance, asking that the US Treasury assuage loan market tensions by purchasing their securities.

In yesterday’s PBS Nightly Business Report, specialty finance analyst Sameer Gokhale and student loan expert Tom Stanton weighed in on the potential effects of such a move. According to Sameer Gokhale, a quick infusion of cash from the Treasury would, “help all of those lenders and ultimately result in a smoother flow of capital back into the student loan system.”

Tom Stanton took a different approach claiming that federal intervention was not yet necessary. “In its last year as a government sponsored enterprise, Sallie Mae made something like 73 percent return on equity, a very generous return. There’s no need at this point to go back to the government and get support,” he stated.  

Even if student lenders continue to drop out of the government’s FFEL program and assistance such as that requested by Sallie Mae is not offered by the Treasury, students will have federal student aid  resources to rely on. A Department of Education lender of last resort measure wherein the government would act as a lender to students denied loans by other lenders would prevent financial catastrophe, but according to the Nightly Business Report Correspondent Stephanie Dhue, resorting to such a plan would be more time consuming than enhancing funds for the one already in place. 

The lender of last resort is yet untested, and, although details are being addressed by Congress, setting up the new program could be painstaking for schools. However, with the Chronicle of Higher Education citing more than fifty FFEL student lender departures, the program may be put into action regardless.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Bill to Aid Lenders Passed by House

Apr 18, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

On Thursday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at halting the mass leave of student lenders from the federal loan program. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, more than 50 lenders have left the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program to date. The growing departure has left families fearing that students will have no one to turn to for financial assistance once their Pell Grants and savings run dry.

To lessen the plight of FFEL lenders and students who depend on them for financial assistance, the bill would allow the Secretary of Education to purchase loans student lenders were not able to sell to investors. By pouring money into the loan market, the Department of Education would enable student lenders to use their capital for issuing new loans rather than paying out the original ones.

The new bill also addressed the lender of last resort, an emergency plan wherein guaranty agencies would be forced to lend money to students who were turned away by other lenders. Under the new plan, the Department of Education would have permission to advance funding to the agencies if need should arise.

To make the transition from the FFEL to the lender of last resort loan program easier on students, loans would be petitioned for on a college by college basis rather than a student by student one. Based on previous outlines of the untested program, students in need of a lender of last resort loan would have had to seek permission from the Department of Education and prove that at least two lenders had turned them down before receiving money.

A bill similar to the House version was introduced but not yet addressed by the Senate. Before the ideas are implemented, both the House and the Senate will have to iron out differences and send the final version to the president for approval.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Department of Education Issues Overview, Requests Plans for Lender of Last Resort

Mar 28, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Just two weeks ago, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings addressed the US House Committee on Education and Labor about its fear of a federal lending program meltdown. To the best of her ability, she tried to qualm the legislators' fears and to convince them that negative speculations were exaggerated. “More than 2,000 originating lenders participate in FFEL,” she said. “A small number of these lenders have reduced their participation or stopped originating new loans.”

However, the Department of Education’s request for Lender of Last Resort (LLR) preparation painted a somewhat different picture. In a letter sent to 35 guarantee agencies, the Financial Student Aid’s Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Warder laid out the basic LLR provisions and asked that the guarantee agencies quickly respond with plans for enacting the emergency program, should the need arise.

With lenders leaving the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program at increasing rates, both legislators and families have been feeling uneasy about college loan options. And while the department maintained that things were largely under control, the letters spoke for themselves.

The LLR provisions state that when a student eligible for federal aid is denied by at least two lenders, guarantee agencies and lenders who have signed agreements with them are responsible for awarding the loan. Being nonprofit entities, the guaranty agencies would use government funding to repay lenders for any student defaults.

To be certain that individuals have quick access to student loans, regardless of decisions made by cautious lenders, the department has asked that guaranty agencies submit their plans to put the LLR program in place.  Among other things, they were asked to prepare a timeline for issuing LLR loans to students, provide a method for informing students about LLR eligibility and plan for meeting the increased administrative requirements. Recipients of the letter were given up to 30 days to respond with a new outline for their LLR program.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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