Originally printed in The New York Times. Adjusted for local audiences.———————————————————————————————-The Obama administration, even as it tried to restrain other domestic spending in its 2011 budget request, has called for expanding the Pell Grants, the main federal college aid program for low-income families. If adopted by Congress, the president’s formula would raise the top grant to $5,710 in 2011, compared with $5,550 this year, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, and make the program available to an additional one million students.Supporters of the Pell Grants, which began in 1973, want to make them an entitlement, as the cost of higher education continues to rise. But some researchers say the expansion of the grants and other federal aid has a counterproductive effect ‘” that colleges and universities simply soak up the gains by increasing their tuition and other costs.Is there a connection between federal education aid and the inflation rate in higher education? More broadly, what can Washington do, if anything, to improve the effectiveness of its programs and reduce the costs of college? GO!