Obama Kicks Off Radical College Aid Revamp

The administration's goals are both ambitious and controversial
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2009 12:05 PM CDT
President Barack Obama's education goals are lofty, and to some smack of nationalization of private industry.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – President Obama’s education proposals have taken a backseat to the economy and health care, but the changes he proposes in student lending are about to ignite a fierce lobbying battle, the Washington Post reports. Obama’s plan to move all federal funds for student lending to the Department of Education and to expand the Pell Grant program, outlined in his budget passed Wednesday by Congress, would effectively make the grants an entitlement like Medicare and Social Security.

The idea would spell the end of federally insured private lending, shifting some $94 billion over a decade into Pell grants. The aim is to save money by cutting out the middlemen, and to boost access to higher education for those who need it most. Opposition will come from private lenders and GOP congressmen. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan called it "an autopilot entitlement immune from congressional oversight at precisely the time when we should be reforming existing entitlements."