Legislation strips banks of their role as middlemen in handling federal student loans

Snowe and Collins vote agains bill to expand college aid

More eligible college students will have access to larger Pell Grants, and future students who take out government loans will have an easier time repaying them under an overhaul of higher education aid that Congress passed.

Banks are no longer the middlemen in federal student loans. The government is now in charge, saving funds. The switch to direct government loans will result in savings to boost Pell Grants and make it easier to repay student loans. In addition, some borrowers could see lower interest rates and higher approval rates on student loans.

The bill is expected to save $61 billion over 10 years. Maine's former Spearker of the House, Glenn Cummings helped draft and negociate the legislation.

The House passed the measure 220-207 as part of an expedited bill that also fixed provisions in the new health care law. Maine Democratic Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree both voted yes. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins both voted no.

The legislation has a wide reach. About half of undergraduates receive federal student aid and about 8.5 million students are going to college with the help of Pell Grants.