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SPIN METER: College aid outpaced by college costs

SPIN METER: College aid outpaced by college costs

AP via Yellowbrix

August 28, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says a bill in Congress would help him send millions more Americans to college. But the measure may fall short of Obama’s goal.

The bill would boost Pell Grants for needy students. But it does nothing to curb college costs, which rise much faster than Pell Grants do.

And it spends precious federal dollars on things that don’t help pay for college, such as construction at K-12 schools and new preschool programs. Lawmakers have an estimated $87 billion to spend on the legislation, but less than half of the money would go to Pell Grants.

The bill would do some things to help college students. It would ensure lower interest rates for need-based college loans. It would shorten the labyrinthine college aid form. It would provide money for states and schools to improve college access and graduation rates. And it would provide more college aid to veterans.

As a result, it has widespread support and is expected to win approval in the House when lawmakers return from their August break. Then it begins the trek through the Senate.

But even supporters agree that to reach Obama’s goal, Congress would have to go much further.

“I think it’s a big step, but I don’t think it’s enough,” said Sandy Baum of the College Board, the nonprofit devoted to college access that owns the SAT and AP tests.

A look at what Obama and other Democrats are promising, and at what their bill would actually do: