A new U.S. Senate-approved bill expected to pass in the U.S. House next month would award grants of between $750 and $1,300 to low-income first- and second-year college students who have graduated from a "rigorous secondary school program of study." If the program is approved, the Education Department will have to rate the nation's high schools for their curricula's rigor, a politically delicate task in the 20 or so states that have not yet established a challenging curriculum or a special diploma for difficult coursework.

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