Funding for Katrina Evacuee Students

Houston area schools could soon receive federal funding to help pay for the cost of absorbing thousands of displaced students from Louisiana.

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With Texas school districts enrolling thousands of evacuee students, many people have asked who is going to pay for their education, especially when most districts are already financially struggling. The answer came from U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.

The pay-outs would go to any district enrolling at least ten displaced students. The Houston Independent School District has enrolled between 4,000 and 5,000 displaced students. That could work out to as much as $37 million dollars in federal aid for HISD alone. Superintendent Dr. Abe Saavedra says right now they're using money from the Reserve Fund to cover costs.

President George Bush will ask Congress to supply the $2.6 billion education package. If approved, it means that the Department of Education will go from contributing 9 percent of a student's education costs to 90 percent for evacuees for one full school year. Asked if some smaller districts could even afford to pay for the remaining ten percent of new students costs, Spellings says increased tax revenues will help.

The request to Congress will also include funding for colleges and universities. Higher education institutions could receive up to $1,000 per student. Evacuee college students would also be forgiven interest for six months on student loans.

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