Even as colleges and universities consider layoffs and enrollment caps in response to the economic meltdown, many are also investing additional money in financial aid programs in an effort to keep needy students from dropping out.

Jasmine Young's stress level was rising as fast as the balance on her unpaid college bills as a new semester approached at Michigan's Oakland University.

The 18-year-old already was behind on last semester's bills, and her mother had been laid off from her job at a southeast Michigan auto parts supplier. But Oakland provided $2,893 in aid, one of many schools nationwide to help students cope...

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