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In my home state of Georgia, state funding for higher education took a huge hit in 2004, and prospects are not yet clear for this year. In Washington, the Higher Education Re-Authorization Act is once again up for debate, having failed to be renewed by the 108th Congress.

As expected, funding issues occupy center stage for the higher education community following release of President George W. Bush's proposed budget for fiscal 2006.

It is mid-December. We are sitting in our office with a student and his parents struggling to assess the meaning of a deferral letter from his first-choice college. The family is quite put out.