By a margin of 78 votes to 18, the U.S. Senate passed a bill on Friday that will open up a good deal more money for student loans. Overall student aid will rise by over $17 billion over the next four years. From the perspective of the individual student, the top annual Pell Grant, the main loan program for financially challenged college students, will go up from $4,300 to $5,400 per year by 2012.
As an added benefit, the bill will make it easier for students to repay their loans. Students will now have to pay no more than 15% of their discretionary income back to the government for a student loan, and loans will be forgiven after two decades.