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Pell Grant program will fall $18 billion short

By Libby Quaid
AP Education Writer / December 9, 2009

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WASHINGTON—The Pell Grant program for needy college students is facing a massive shortfall as the country's bleak job market drives people back to school.

An administration official says the program will cost $18 billion more than Congress and the White House had anticipated over the next three years. The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the budget, spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official said the administration is working with Congress to fill the gap and is committed to making sure the U.S. has an educated work force.

The shortfall is the largest in the history of the program, which cost the government about $18 billion last year.