It’s still unclear if the student aid bill will actually be merged into Obama’s healthcare overhaul this week. But according to an article by Doug Lederman at Inside Higher Ed, if education loan reform goes through it’s going to look a little different than Democrats had originally planned:

Pell Grants would remain the legislation’s top priority, although because of the program’s rapidly escalating costs, the value of the maximum grant would rise less than originally planned.

Community colleges will get little or none of nearly $10 billion they’d been slated to receive.

Historically black, Hispanic and other colleges could benefit because Democratic leaders are afraid of angering small but powerful blocs of minority members of Congress.

Some of the savings from the loan overhaul may be used to help pay for health care reform.

The reason for these developments has a lot to do with money. Moving to a system where colleges lend directly to students was supposed to generate $87 billion over the next ten years. But now the bad economy has pushed more students into higher education, increasing the total cost of the Pell Grant program.

The Congressional Budget Office is supposed to release an estimate of the costs and benefits of the new budget bill tomorrow or later today.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer