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Student Aid Programs Get Slight Boost in Proposed Federal Budget

The Congressional spending bill released Tuesday includes some additional federal dollars to help disadvantaged students get into and through college.

The proposal, which must get the approval by both chambers and signature by President Obama before going into effect, would sidestep a government shutdown this week and fund the government through next September.

In the compromise appropriations bill, the maximum Pell award, targeted at low-income students, would increase for the 2015-16 academic year by $100 to $5,830.

Two years ago, Congress stopped providing Pell Grants to community college students without a high school diploma. This new legislation would restore the "ability to benefit" program giving students access to the federal aid as long as they are in a career pathway program at a community college.

The bill also provides support for efforts by the U.S. Department of Education to test competency-based education as an alternative method for delivering federal financial aid.

As for career technical education, the budget proposal does not cut money from the Perkins Act, which supports those programs in high schools. Funding for the program would remain flat at $1.1 billion for basic state grant programs and $7.4 million for Perkins national activities.

The legislation includes $840 million, an increase of $1.5 million, for TRIO, a slate of programs that help disadvantaged students access college.

There is a provision for $2.5 million to establish a new national center for students with disabilities to help disabled students transition between high school and college. It would also fund campus training to better serve and provide accommodations for these students.

(For more on the compromise bill and its effect on other education programs, see Politics K-12)

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