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Posted at 5:39 PM ET, 02/ 1/2011

Pell grant set at $5,550 for next academic year

By Daniel de Vise

In a "Dear Colleague" letter today, the U.S. Department of Education set the maximum Pell Grant award at $5,550 for the 2011-12 academic year, signaling that the largest grant program for low-income students will be fully funded.

It may not seem like much: All the letter affirms is that the maximum federal grant for college students in need will be the same next year as this year.

But student aid advocates cheered the news; they had feared Pell funding might decline.

"It's a climate of constant budget cuts," said Rich Williams, higher education advocate for U.S. PIRG.

The action carries through on legislation passed last year that added $36 billion to the Pell program, the largest source of grant aid to needy students. The aid initiative calls for the annual Pell grant to rise to $5,975 by 2017 from the current $5,550, and links it to the consumer price index for the first time.

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By Daniel de Vise  | February 1, 2011; 5:39 PM ET
Categories:  Access, Aid, Public policy  | Tags:  Pell grants, college aid, financial aid, student aid  
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