Obama’s Stimulus Package – or, “Students: REJOICE!”

The Associated Press examined the effects of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package. He is expected to approve the bill on Tuesday.

What caught my eye was the measure’s effects on higher education. Take a gander:

The maximum Pell Grant, which helps the lowest-income students attend college, would increase from $4,731 currently to $5,350 starting July 1 and $5,550 in 2010-2011. That would cover three-quarters of the average cost of a four-year college. An extra 800,000 students, or about 7 million, would now get Pell funding.

In my opinion, this is by far the best provision this stimulus could achieve. It’s a refreshing sight to see additional financial aid for students who may not be able to afford to go to college. Obama – and every legislator who supported this – kudos to you! After witnessing disastrous budget cuts at my university, I am incredibly pleased.

The stimulus also increases the tuition tax credit to $2,500 and makes it 40 percent refundable, so families who don’t earn enough to pay income tax could still get up to $1,000 in extra tuition help.

Show me the money, folks.

Computer expenses will now be an allowable expense for 529 college savings plans.

The final package cut $6 billion the House wanted to spend to kick-start building projects on college campuses. But parts of the $54 billion state stabilization fund — with $39 billion set aside for education — can be used for modernizing facilities.

An understandable cut to the bill. I don’t know, I’m tired of the construction on my campus – but if “modernizing facilities” means going green, then more power to it.

There’s also an estimated $15 billion for scientific research, much of which will go to universities. Funding for the National Institutes of Health includes $1.5 billion set aside for university research facilities.

Altogether, the package spends an estimated $32 billion on higher education.

Not meaning to quote an annoying culinary TV personality, but HOW COOL IS THAT?

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