A concerted effort is underway among students and college presidents to lobby congress so that student Pell grant money would not be cut from the budget
Jenna Johnson is the Washington Post’s higher education blogger, and her most recent post at the “Campus Overload” site on WashingtonPost.com describes a new concerted effort that is underway among students and college presidents to lobby congress so that student Pell grant money would not be cut from the budget.
Before agreeing to raise the federal debt ceiling, Republican lawmakers want Democrats to agree to a number of budget cuts. Some of the proposed plans call for cuts to the Federal Pell Grant Program, which allows many of the country’s poorest students to attend college.
This continues and intensifies a months-long debate about how the Pell Grant program is funded and administered. Next school year, the program is slated to spend $35 billion on 9.4 million students. Republicans looking to cut the program have suggested restricting student eligibility or reducing the maximum amount students can receive.
In the past week or so, dozens of university presidents, students and education advocates have gone to Capitol Hill in order to persuade lawmakers to protect Pell Grants. Monday has been officially designated as “ Save Pell” day by a nonprofit organization called Education Trust. Ed Trust’s primary focus is on closing education achievement gaps. Unlike loans, Pell Grants do not have to be repaid after graduation. When the program started 30 years ago, the maximum Pell Grant covered nearly three-fourths of the cost of attending a four-year public college, according to the Education Trust. Today, the maximum award covers about a third of the cost, and 63 percent of Pell recipients also take out loans to pay for school. Nearly half of African American undergraduates receive Pells, as do 40 percent of Latino undergrads.
“I don’t think you can say that you have the best interest of this country at heart and cut Pell Grants,” said Leo Morton, chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, at a news conference Tuesday. “You see, this is an area where we need to invest.”
Read the rest of Ms. Johnson’s post here.