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Trump faces backlash over plan to dip into Pell reserves

Education advocates say a Trump administration plan to use federal Pell Grant money for space exploration would jeopardize aid for future college students.

The plan aims to steer $1.9 billion from a Pell Grant surplus to jumpstart a NASA initiative to put astronauts back on the moon. It follows a separate proposal to take $2 billion from the Pell surplus.

The Pell Grant program is the largest source of federal financial aid for low-income college students.

Administration officials say the proposal won’t hurt students. But many education groups say the surplus is needed to guard against sudden surges in demand for Pell Grants, which often happen during economic downturns.

Jon Fansmith, director of government relations for the American Council on Education, says the plan would undercut the program’s stability.