Economic Stimulus Plan Offers Hope for Higher Education

Economic Stimulus Plan Offers Hope for Higher Education

As the dust begins to settle on the compromise economic stimulus bill crafted by Congress late last week, the picture for higher education was generally positive – with students and colleges poised to receive significant support according to a report from Inside Higher Education.


About $30 billion in new funds would flow to students and their families in 2009 and 2010, about $17 billion in the form of increased Pell Grants and $13 billion in expanded higher education tax credits.   For the first time ever, tax credits would be expanded to be available to some students from lower-income families that do not pay taxes. 

"While it is premature to guess the ultimate outcome of certain portions of the stimulus act on higher education, initial reports indicate a favorable benefit will be coming to students and some institutions.  In such economic times, this gives some hope to continuing and incoming student populations,” said Dr. Loren Gresham, President, Southern Nazarene University. 

In the details of the compromise, the maximum Pell Grant available for some students would increase.  The stimulus bill would also include $200 million for College Work Study.  The new bill would temporarily replace the Hope tax credit with $2,500 credit available for four years of college.  

For the first time, the cost of a student’s computer would count as a qualified expense under the States’ 529 college savings plans.  Additional provisions of the legislation would increase funding for the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Institutes of Health for scientific research and make up to $8.8 billion for governors to award for high priority needs, including education.   

“From the initial reports, it appears the bill will provide a stimulus with immediate impact for many college students and their families.  In addition, investment in education has many long-term employment benefits for the individual as well as providing an educated work force for our communities.” noted Mike Redwine, Vice-President for Enrollment Management at Southern Nazarene University.  

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