A key piece of the debt deal is $17 billion for funding of the Pell Grant program in FY 2012 and 2013. This is good news for Pell, but it was paid for through the elimination of the in-school interest subsidy for graduate student loans. The National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities (NAICU) is forecasting a tough year ahead: Pell will still need an additional $1.3 billion in this fall's appropriations process to maintain the $5,550 grant maximum, and funding for other student aid programs, like Perkins and work study, and for university research (NIH) also need to be approved this fall.

These decisions will be made under the new spending cap outlined in the debt bill, which is $24 billion more than the House-passed budget, but $7 billion below last year's total spending level. NAICU also warns that the Special Joint Committee, charged with considering another $1.5 trillion in cuts, will most likely put forth a large budget reconciliation measure that could target the undergraduate in-school interest subsidy for elimination.