Congressional leaders last night struck a deal on a final FY 2012 budget omnibus bill, which the House passed this afternoon by a vote of 296-121. A Senate vote is expected later today. The measure maintains the maximum Pell Grant at $5,550 but also makes several changes to Pell eligibility and other student aid programs that will impact hundreds of thousands of students.
Among the changes is a student loan provision which would charge interest to borrowers with subsidized Stafford loans during the six-month repayment grace period after leaving school.
The changes to the Pell eligibility requirements include reducing the allowable income to qualify for a maximum grant under the “automatic zero” expected family contribution calculation; requiring recipients to have a high school diploma or a GED Test credential or to have been homeschooled; and reducing the number of years a student can qualify for the grants from nine to six.
Included in the package is a 1.83 percent across the board cut to all FY 2012 non-defense discretionary spending, which will impact student aid programs.
Other education provisions in the bill increase funds for the National Institutes of Health by $300 million and for TRIO Programs by $15 million. Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Work-Study and GEAR UP are level-funded.
The final bill comes after much negotiation among congressional leaders and talk of a government shutdown this week.
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