Woot! The moment you've all been waiting for is upon us. XNA GSE 2.0 has been released with some killer new features. Paraphrasing the official announcement from the XNA team:
Download XNA Game Studio 2.0 (Yes it's free)
I personally have seen a lot of interest in academia around XNA in my travels through the Southeast US. It makes game development accessible to people, especially students who are already shoulder deep in learning new stuff.