The White House is still silent on student-bailout legislation

How student-bailout beneficiaries plan to spend $400 billion

A year after the largest student-bailout in history, there is confusion and anger about who will pay for it. And many fear they could be left on the hook for billions in costs, after legislators passed a law the day after the bill was released, giving students more time to repay loans.

The bill is the first in a series of $100 billion in bailout funds for the nation’s public colleges and universities.

“There’s a lot of anger, a lot of confusion,” said Paul J. Walsh, the New York Democrat who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee. “What happens at the end of the day really doesn’t matter. It’s not like there’s a law saying anyone else has to pick up the tab.”

But in a series of legislative moves that has begun to blur the line between the bill’s sponsor, President Bush, and its critics, Mr. Walsh says Republicans are still trying to find a path forward that does not leave millions of students and taxpayers on the hook.

“The plan is to pay the money back over 11 years,” he said. “Many students will be paying for it. But you don’t have to be a math genius to see the problem.

“We’ve talked at great length about the idea that the students should pay for the loans. Now they’re talking about how many billions? We’re not debating dollars. We’re discussing the question of how the money is to be disbursed. People are confused about what the end game is.”

In an address to the nation, Mr. Bush said he had given the House a “clear indication of where we are” on student-bailout legislation. Yet the White House has remained silent on what lawmakers are proposing.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, said the Bush administration had put “a lot of pressure” on him and other lawmakers to pass legislation with a firm deadline for repayment.

“I have tried to do the right thing and I have been thwarted by people who are intent on keeping students in debt,” he said. “We need to get this done.”

The president is taking a different position. He has called the bill “an act of Congress,” and has said he will use it as a

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