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From Capitol to Campus

Not much has been decided about what direction discussions of higher education issues will take now that Democrats have regained control of both houses of Congress, as well as the White House.

There is reason to believe that college affordability will continue to be a high priority in Congress. Given 2008’s record numbers of young voters—for whom this issue often carries even greater weight—Washington got a clear message that more needs to be done on this front.

With the country’s complicated and perilous financial situation, it’s not clear how much can be done, though President-elect Obama has indicated that he wants a stimulus bill on his desk early in the new year, and Congress is likely to try hard to comply.

School construction proposals have been mentioned as part of the mix of stimulus efforts. In addition, the National Governors Association included increased funding for Pell Grants among their recommendations to provide support to states in these tough budget times.

Also on the agenda for the start of the new Congress is the completion of appropriations bills for the upcoming fiscal year. Funding will be tight and, while some increases for key education programs are anticipated, a large infusion of money for education is not likely.

In addition to funding issues, the new Congress is slated to address a number of education bills. On the heels of the success of the 110th Congress in passing bills such as the American COMPETES Act, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, and the Higher Education Opportunity Act, other key bills are up for consideration, including the controversial No Child Left Behind Act.

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