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Publication Date: February 1, 2003

Author: OS | Office of the Secretary



Posted on 02-03-2003


U.S. Department of Education
Office of Public Affairs, News Branch
400 Maryland Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202

FOR RELEASEFebruary 1, 2003


Record investment to help nearly 4.9 million low- and middle-income Americans pursue higher education

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige today announced that the administration's fiscal year 2004 budget proposal would include a $1.9 billion increase for the Pell Grant program. This record request would increase Pell Grant funding to an all-time high of $12.7 billion and enable almost 4.9 million students to receive a Pell Grant - nearly one million more than when President Bush took office two years ago.

"Pell Grants are the most effective of the student aid programs in ensuring that low- and middle-income students have access to a college education," Paige said. "Since taking office, President Bush has requested an unprecedented $4.9 billion in additional funding for this critical program. The president's 2004 budget proposal further demonstrates his commitment to invest in the future of America's neediest students at all levels of education. The substantial funding increase we are seeking will help millions of needy families pay for higher education and give millions of students the opportunity to pursue their educational goals and make the most of their potential."

Overall, the president's 2004 budget proposal increases the amount of financial aid available for postsecondary students to $62.2 billion, an additional $3.1 billion or five percent over the level requested in 2003. A record 9.2 million students and parents would be able to receive grants, loans and work-study assistance under President Bush's proposal, 386,000 more recipients than the previous year. At the same time, interest rates on student loans are at an all-time low of 4.06 percent for academic year 2002-03, more than a 50 percent reduction from the 1998-99 academic year when rates were 8.25 percent. Student loan cohort default rates remained below 6 percent for the second consecutive year.

Other 2004 Budget Highlights

The president's 2004 budget request will include a proposed increase in funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) to ensure opportunity and access for every American. The president's fiscal year 2004 budget will increase funding by five percent for the following programs: $224 million for HBCUs, $53 million for Historically Black Graduate Institutions and $94 million for HSIs, totaling $371 million. The budget also will include a 5 percent increase for the nation's 34 tribal colleges and universities, bringing the total requested amount to $19 million.Â

In his Jan. 4 radio address, Bush announced that he will propose an additional $1 billion, a total of $12.3 billion, for the Title I program in the 2004 budget -- the highest funding level ever for the program that serves our nation's neediest K-12 students. In the address, he also announced that he would request more than $1.1 billion for federal reading programs in next year's budget, an increase of $75 million over last year's budget request. This investment will go only to support programs with proven results in teaching children to read. Â

On Jan. 21, Paige announced that the president's 2004 budget would further help schools in low-income communities to recruit and retain highly qualified classroom teachers in fields facing critical teacher shortages. Up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness would be provided to each math, science and special education teacher who works for five consecutive years in a school serving high poverty populations, more than three times the $5,000 in loan forgiveness now allowed for other qualified elementary and secondary teachers.

The president's 2004 budget again will demonstrate his administration's commitment to expanding education options for parents by including an estimated $756 million to help insure America's parents have more choices for their children, including $75 million for a new Choice Incentive Fund; $226 million in refundable tax credits for parents transferring a child from a public school identified for improvement; $25 million for Voluntary Public School Choice grants to increase the capacity of schools to accept students exercising a choice option; $220 million for charter school grants to support approximately 1,800 new and existing charter schools; $100 million to continue the Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities program to assist charter schools in acquiring, leasing and renovating school facilities; and $110 million to continue the Magnet Schools Assistance Program to provide grants to eligible local education agencies to establish and operate magnet schools that are operated under a court-ordered or federally approved voluntary desegregation plan.