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Houses Passes Loans Bill, Minus Early Ed.

Obviously, this is the biggest news out of Congress this weekend. But, as we've mentioned before, a major change to the student lending program is hitching a ride with the health care overhaul.

The most important details for K-12 folks are that a) the bill shores up and provides an increase for Pell Grants, which expand access to college for low-income students, and b) in shoring up the Pell program, this bill may indirectly help appropriations for other key K-12 programs, including new Obama priorities.

The bill's supporters told me that if it didn't pass, they would have to find the money to fund Pell grants somewhere else ... and that would almost certainly have put the squeeze on Title I, special education, and other K-12 priorities.

The loans bill is part of that package of changes to health care that will be made through reconciliation, so it's still got to get 51 votes in the Senate.

And it's important to note that money for early-education and other key programs in an earlier version of the bill are missing from this loans package.

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