U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Summary — February 4, 2008


Section II. D.  Student Financial Assistance


In 2009 the Department of Education will administer almost $95 billion in new grants, loans, and work-study assistance to help almost 11 million students and their families pay for college. The request includes nearly $19 billion in combined discretionary and mandatory funding for the Pell Grant program to support awards to almost 5.8 million students and increase the maximum award to $4,800, the highest level ever. The budget also would support almost $75 billion in new guaranteed and direct student loans. Federal student aid funds will help millions of Americans obtain the benefits of postsecondary education and play a vital role in strengthening our Nation by providing advanced training for today's global economy.

In September 2007 President Bush signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA), providing the largest increase in student aid funding in a generation. This landmark legislation, which was based on proposals advanced in the 2008 President's Budget, invested over $15 billion in new mandatory funds over 5 years to raise the maximum Pell Grant to $5,400 by award year 2012-2013. These funds support annual additions, rising from $490 for award year 2008-2009 to $1,090 in 2012-2013, to the maximum Pell Grant award set in each year's discretionary appropriation act. The law also made a number of changes to expand eligibility for Pell Grants and other need-based student aid.

The 2009 request for student financial assistance keeps the Pell Grant program on track to deliver on the promise of the CCRAA, restoring the discretionary maximum award to $4,310 and investing an additional $2.6 billion in discretionary funding over the 2008 level. Under the President's proposal, nearly 5.8 million Americans will receive an average Pell Grant award of $3,154, the first time the program's average grant has exceeded $3,000. This proposal represents the culmination of President Bush's unprecedented commitment to this vital program, funding for which has more than doubled—from $8.8 billion to nearly $19 billion—since 2001.

This line graph shows that Pell Grant funding has grown from $8.8 billion in 2001 to $18.9 billion under the 2009 Budget Request.  Note that these amounts include discretionary and mandatory funding in 2008 and 2009, and that the 2006 total excludes $4.3 billion for prior-year funding shortfalls.

Student Aid Summary Tables

Budget Authority ($ in millions)

  2007   2008   2009
Pell Grants
   Discretionary funding $13,660.7 1 $14,215.0 1 $16,851.1 1
   Mandatory funding   2,041.0   2,090.0  
Subtotal, Pell Grants
Supplemental Educational
   Opportunity Grants
770.9   757.5    
Work-Study 980.4   980.5   980.5  
Leveraging Educational Assistance
64.9 2 63.9 2  
Academic Competitiveness Grants 850.0   395.0 3 960.0  
TEACH Grants   7.0   14.0  
Loans for Short-Term Training     3.0  
Federal Family Education Loans 3,690.5 4 -398.0 4 2,407.3 4
Federal Direct Loans 3,982.2 5 4,983.4 5 -1,262.4 5
Perkins Loans Cancellations 65.5   64.3    

   1Discretionary amount for 2007 assumes use of additional $227 million from prior-year surplus, consistent with scoring rule included in the 2006 Congressional Budget Resolution. Discretionary amount for 2008 assumes use of $521.1 million to fund shortfall from previous year. Discretionary amount for 2009 assumes use of $732.1 million to fund shortfall from previous year.
   2Includes $34.9 million in 2007 and $33.9 million in 2008 for Special LEAP.
   3For budget scoring and presentation purposes, the FY 2008 funding level reflects a rescission of $525 million in unneeded, unobligated balances. This does not affect the actual availability of the FY 2008 mandatory appropriation of $920 million.
   4Budget authority requested for FFEL does not include the Liquidating account. The 2007 amount includes a net downward re-estimate of $3.7 billion primarily related to revised assumptions for interest rates, loan volume, and default collection costs. The 2008 amount includes a net upward re-estimate of $990 million primarily related to revised interest rates and assumptions related to deferment and forbearance, students entering repayment, and teacher loan forgiveness. The 2008 amount also includes a $2.5 billion downward modification to reflect the effect of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act on existing loans.
   5For 2007, the Direct Loan amount includes a net upward re-estimate of $3.7 billion primarily related to revised assumptions related to interest rates and collections on defaulted loans. The 2008 amount includes a net upward re-estimate of $585 million primarily related to revised interest rates and assumptions related to income-contingent repayment. The 2008 amount also includes a $4.1 billion upward modification to reflect the effect of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act on existing loans. The 2009 amount includes a net downward modification of $1.6 billion related to proposed policies.

Aid Available to Students ($ in millions)

  2007   2008   2009
Pell Grants $14,381.9   $16,428.1   $18,180.2  
Supplemental Educational
   Opportunity Grants
975.9   958.8    
Work-Study 1,171.2   1,171.4   1,171.4  
Leveraging Educational Assistance
165.0 1 161.6 1  
Academic Competitiveness Grants 350   440   490  
SMART Grants 230   260   270  
TEACH Grants   86.0   114.0  
New Student Loans:            
   Loans for Short-Term Training     362.6  
   Federal Family Education Loans 51,319.8   56,241.8   59,307.7  
   Federal Direct Loans 13,022.1   14,103.5   14,866.5  
   Perkins Loans 1,104.5   1,103.4    
Subtotal, Student Loans

   1 Reflects only the LEAP program's statutory State matching requirements.
   2In addition, consolidation loans for existing borrowers will total $50 billion in 2007, $38 billion in 2008, and $43 billion in 2009.
   3Shows total aid generated by Department programs, including Federal Family Education Loan capital, Perkins Loan capital from institutional revolving funds, and institutional and State matching funds.

Number of Student Aid Awards
(in thousands)

  2007   2008   2009
Pell Grants 5,428   5,578   5,764  
Supplemental Educational
   Opportunity Grants
1,277.3   1,255.0    
Work-Study 792.4   792.6   792.6  
Leveraging Educational Assistance
165.0 1 161.6 1  
Academic Competitiveness Grants 456.0   559.0   643.0  
SMART Grants 72.0   79.0   85.0  
TEACH Grants   31.0   41.0  
New Student Loans:2            
   Loans for Short-Term Training     377.0  
   Federal Family Education Loans 11,519.2   12,235.3   12,702.0  
   Federal Direct Loans 2,764.0   2,857.3   2,961.2  
   Perkins Loans 504.3   503.8    

   1Reflects only the LEAP program's statutory State matching requirements.
   2In addition, consolidation loans for existing borrowers will total 1,823 in 2007, 1,320 in 2008, and 1,451 in 2009.

Number of Postsecondary Students Aided by Department Programs

  2007 2008 2009
Unduplicated Count (in thousands) 10,075 10,560 10,857

Tax Benefits for Postsecondary Students and Their Families

In addition to the Department of Education's grant, loan, and work-study programs, significant support for postsecondary students and their families is available through tax credits and deductions for higher education expenses, including tuition and fees. For example, in 2009, students and families will save an estimated $3.6 billion under the HOPE tax credit, which allows a credit of up to $1,500 for tuition and fees during the first 2 years of postsecondary education; $2.3 billion under the Lifetime Learning tax credit, which allows a credit of up to $2,000 for undergraduate and graduate tuition and fees; and $830 million in above-the-line deductions for interest paid on postsecondary student loans. The 2009 request also promotes savings for college by providing a 50 percent tax credit for the first $2,000 that moderate- and low-income parents invest annually in a 529 tuition-savings account. The credit ranges between 10 and 50 percent of the amount contributed, depending on the taxpayer's filing status and adjusted gross income (adjusted for inflation).

Pell Grants

  2007 2008 2009
B.A. in millions      
   Discretionary $13,661 $14,215 $16,851
   Mandatory 2,041 2,090


Program costs ($ in millions) 14,409 16,467 18,209
Aid available ($ in millions) 14,382 16,428 18,180
Recipients (in thousands) 5,428 5,578 5,764
Maximum grant      
   Discretionary $4,310 $4,241 $4,310
   Mandatory add-on 490 490


Average grant 2,650 2,945 3,154

The Pell Grant program helps ensure financial access to postsecondary education by providing grant aid to low- and middle-income undergraduate students. The program is the most need-focused of the Department's student aid programs, with individual awards varying according to the financial circumstances of students and their families.

This request includes $16.9 billion in discretionary funding and $2.1 billion in mandatory funding to support a maximum award of $4,800 for award year 2009-2010. The $2.6 billion discretionary increase proposed for 2009 primarily reflects updated cost estimates for the Pell Grant program as well as a small increase needed to restore the discretionary share of the maximum Pell Grant to $4,310. The 2009 request increase sets the Pell Grant program back on the 5-year path to a $5,400 maximum award in award year 2012-2013, as envisioned in the President's 2008 Budget proposal and implemented by the College Cost Reduction and Access Act.

This text box states that in the 2009-10 Award Year, Pell Grant recipients will total an extimated 5.8 million students; 30 percent will receive a maximum Pell award of $4,800; 87 percent have family incomes under $40,000; 46 percent are over the age of 23; 20 percent are enrolled on a less-than-full-time basis; and 35 percent attend 2-year public institutions.

While Pell Grants have been very successful in expanding access to postsecondary education for low-income students, the Administration plans to work with Congress to increase the program's effectiveness and improve its overall operation. Accordingly, the 2009 request includes the following proposals:

Campus-Based Programs


  2007 2008 2009
B.A. in millions $980 $980 $980
Aid available ($ in millions) 1,171 1,171 1,171
Recipients (in thousands) 792 793 793
Average award $1,478 $1,478 $1,478

The Work-Study program provides grants to participating institutions to pay up to 75 percent of the wages of eligible undergraduate and graduate students working part-time to help pay their college costs. The school or other eligible employer provides the balance of the student's wages. At the request level, nearly 800,000 students would receive a total of nearly $1.2 billion in award year 2009-10. Funds are allocated to institutions according to a statutory formula, and individual award amounts to students are determined at the discretion of institutional financial aid administrators.

Academic Competitiveness Grants/SMART Grants

  2007 2008 2009
B.A. in millions $850.0 $395.0 $960.0
Rescission of unneeded balances 525.0
Cancellation of unneeded balances 652.0
Academic Competitiveness Grants      
   Recipients (in thousands) 456,000 559,000 643,000
   Aid available to students (in 000s) $350,000 $440,000 $490,000
   Maximum grant (in whole $)      
     First-year student $750 $750 $750
     Second-year student $1,300 $1,300 $1,300
   Average grant (in whole $) $768 $787 $762
SMART Grants
   Recipients 72,000 79,000 85,000
   Aid available to students (in 000s) $230,000 $260,000 $270,000
   Maximum grant (in whole $) $4,000 $4,000 $4,000
   Average grant (in whole $) $3,194 $3,291 $3,176

These programs, which began operation on July 1, 2006, award need-based Academic Competitiveness Grants (ACG) to first- and second-year undergraduates who complete a rigorous high school curriculum, and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grants to third- and fourth-year undergraduates majoring in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, engineering, or a critical foreign language. All funding is mandatory, so annual discretionary appropriations are not required.

Academic Competitiveness Grants are awarded to United States citizens who are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. First-year applicants, who may receive up to $750, also must be first-time undergraduates, enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a 2- or 4-year degree granting institution, and have completed a rigorous secondary school program. Second-year ACG applicants qualify for an award of up to $1,300 if they have completed a rigorous program and maintained a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 during their first year as an undergraduate. The Secretary of Education recognizes at least one rigorous program of study in each State.

SMART Grant applicants must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in the coursework required by their major to qualify for up to $4,000 for their third and fourth years of undergraduate study. SMART Grants, in combination with the Federal Pell Grant and other student financial assistance, may not exceed the student's cost of attendance.

While the Administration is working with States and postsecondary institutions to increase demand for these programs, participation trends during the first 2 years indicate that future funding will substantially exceed the amounts needed to support anticipated grant awards. Congress rescinded $525 million in unneeded ACG/SMART balances in 2008 and the Administration proposes to cancel an additional $652 million in unneeded balances in 2009. Even with the proposed cancellation of these funds, in the 2009-2010 academic year the Administration estimates there will be 84,000 new ACG recipients (a 15 percent increase) and 6,000 new SMART grant recipients (an 8 percent increase) compared to the prior year.

TEACH Grants

  2007 2008 2009
BA in millions $7.0 $14.0
   Recipients 31,000 41,000
   Aid available to students (in 000s) $86,000 $114,000
   Maximum grant (in whole $) $4,000 $4,000
   Average grant (in whole $) $2,774 $2,780

The TEACH Grant program—created by the College Cost Reduction and Access Act and beginning operation on July 1, 2008—awards annual grants of up to $4,000 to eligible undergraduate and graduate students who agree to serve as a full-time mathematics, science, foreign language, bilingual education or other English language program, special education, or reading teacher at a high-need school for not less than 4 years within 8 years of graduation. For students who fail to fulfill this service requirement, grants are converted to Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, with interest accrued from the date the grants were awarded.

For budget and financial management purposes, this program will be operated as a loan program with 100 percent forgiveness of outstanding principal and interest upon completion of a student's service requirement. The Administration currently estimates approximately 80 percent of participating students will not complete the required service and thus will have their grants converted to Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans. Consistent with the requirements of the Credit Reform Act of 1990, budget authority for this program reflects the estimated net present value of all future non-administrative Federal costs associated with awards made in a given fiscal year. Re-estimates of prior-year costs will be performed each year beginning in fiscal year 2009.

Loans for Short-Term Training

  2007 2008 2009
BA in millions $3.0
   Recipients 377,000
   Aid available to students (in 000s) $362,593
   Maximum loan (in whole $) $5,000
   Average loan (in whole $) $962

This proposed new, market-oriented program, jointly administered by the Departments of Education and Labor, would help dislocated, unemployed, transitioning, or older workers and students acquire or upgrade specific job-related skills through short-term training programs. These programs are usually shorter than 10 weeks and are not currently eligible for Federal student aid. Eligible programs for the new loans must lead to an industry credential or certificate, or toemployer-endorsed technological/occupational skills. This program is expected to provide over $362 million in loans to 377,000 recipients in FY 2009.

Federal Family Education Loans and Direct Loans

  2007   2008   2009
   Federal Family Education Loans            
   New Loan Subsidies (BA) $6,850.1 1 $1,076.4 1 $2,407.3 1
   Net Modification of Existing Loans   -2,464.3 2  
   Net Re-estimate of Prior Loans -3,159.6 3 990.0 3  
     Total, FFEL Program BA
   Direct Loans            
   New Loan Subsidy (BA) 264.6 4 255.6 4 328.7 4
   Net Modification of Existing Loans   4,143.3 2 -1,591.0 2
   Net Re-estimate of Prior Loans 3,717.6 3 584.5 3  
     Total, New Budget Authority
     Total, Student Loans (BA)

   1Total includes amount for Consolidation Loans, but does not include the Liquidating Account, which deals with costs associated with loans made prior to 1992.
   2Under Credit Reform, costs or savings related to the impact of policy changes on existing loans are reflected in the current year. Amounts for 2008 reflect the impact of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act on existing loans. The amount for 2009 reflects proposed policies.
   3Under Credit Reform, the subsidy amounts needed for active loan cohorts are re-estimated annually in both Direct Loans and FFEL to account for changes in long-term projections. In 2007 and 2008, Direct Loans re-estimates primarily reflect revised interest rate assumptions, and in 2008, revised assumptions related to income-contingent repayment. FFEL re-estimates are driven primarily by updated interest rate, deferment and forbearance, enter repayment, and teacher loan forgiveness assumptions.
   4Total includes amount for Consolidation Loans.

New loan volume (in millions)

  2007   2008   2009
   Federal Family Education Loans $51,320   $56,242   $59,308  
   Direct Loans 13,022   14,103   14,867  
Number of New loans (in thousands)            
   Federal Family Education Loans 11,519   12,235   12,702  
    Direct Loans 2,764   2,857   2,961  

   1In addition, Consolidation Loans for existing borrowers will total $50 billion and 1.8 million loans in 2007, $38 billion and 1.3 million loans in 2008, and $43 billion and 1.5 million loans in 2009.

The Department of Education operates two major student loan programs: the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) program. These two programs meet an important Department goal by helping ensure student access to and completion of high-quality postsecondary education. Competition between the two programs and among FFEL lenders has led to a greater emphasis on borrower satisfaction and resulted in better customer service to students and institutions.

The FFEL program makes loan capital available to students and their families through some 3,100 private lenders. There are 35 active State and private nonprofit guaranty agencies which administer the Federal guarantee protecting FFEL lenders against losses related to borrower default. These agencies also collect on defaulted loans and provide other services to lenders. The FFEL program accounts for about 80 percent of new student loan volume.

Under the Direct Loan program, the Federal Government uses Treasury funds to provide loan capital directly to schools, which then disburse loan funds to students. The Direct Loan program began operation in academic year 1994-95 and now accounts for about 20 percent of new student loan volume.

Basic Loan Program Components

Both FFEL and Direct Loans feature four types of loans with similar fees and maximum borrowing amounts:

College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA)

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 made a number of significant changes in the loan programs to expand student benefits, increase program efficiency, and reduce excessive subsidies in order to focus limited Federal resources on aid to needy students. These changes include:

Perkins Loan Revolving Funds

The Administration is proposing to recall the Federal portion of the Perkins Loans revolving funds currently held by participating institutions, which will total $4.2 billion over fiscal years 2009-2013. The Administration believes the Perkins Loan program is ineffective, redundant, and poorly targeted.

Career, Technical, and Adult Education  Table of contents  Higher Education Programs

For further information contact the ED Budget Service.

This page last modified—February 4, 2008 (mjj).