Senate approves increase in student federal aid

 The US senate approved $36 billion dollars in federal aid which could help  students across the country to  attend college. Senator Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) announced on March 18 the approval of legislation providing $36 billion nationwide for student financial aid in federally-issued Pell grants. “This money will go into substantially increasing the number of young people who will be eligible for Pell grants, and the size of those grants,” Sen. Sanders said. Federal financial aid Pell grants are available to students based solely on their financial need.  “Instead of large banks profiting on the administering of federally granted loans, what we have done is cut the middlemen out of that process,” Sen. Sanders said. With this legislation approved, the average Pell grant would go from $5,550 in the next school year to $5,975 in 2017, according to a Senate press release.Last year, Vermont students received $27 million in Pell grants — now this figure will climb to $45 million next year and $67 million by 2017.”UVM’s financial aid budget — including athletic grants — was about $62 million last year,” Marie Johnson, director of Student Financial Services, said. “We exceeded that budget.” Of UVM’s 10,372 undergraduates, 2,188 received Pell grants this past fiscal year. However, 8,000 students also received some sort of aid from the University through scholarships, grants, loans and payment plans, Johnson said.”More students are starting to fall into the category where they are eligible for aid,” Johnson said.House Democrats attached the student aid initiative in the final amendments to the health care bill.  This eliminated a $60 billion federal subsidy program supporting private student loans and replacing it with government lending, according to The Washington Post.”In this economy,” Johnson said, “even people who had intentions of paying outright are needing to receive financial assistance.””We try to be creative and proactive when working with families to figure out some sort of financial plan,” Johnson said.Still, sometimes federal aid is necessary.  “The University is not necessarily always able to meet that need,” Johnson said.