Cuts to Pell grants would harm low-income students
Students who have difficulty paying for college could soon be seeing cuts to their financial aid.
The House of Representatives’ proposed budget for 2012 would cut Pell grants by 15 percent, according to a New York Times article. The maximum grant awarded is $5,500 and the cut would reduce that by $845.
Cuts to Pell grants would hurt all students who receive them, but especially those students who pay for the majority of their tuition and other fees with grants.
In the 2008-2009 school year, 6.2 million students were awarded Pell grants to help them pay for their education.
In that same year, about 74 percent of Pell grant recipients were students whose households made $50,000 or less per year, according to the Pell Institute. With annual household incomes of that size, expected parental contribution for those students is $1,200 or less.
That amount of money would only cover about half of a semester’s worth of tuition here at UW-Eau Claire. And as we all know, tuition doesn’t include housing, food, books and segregated fees.
On a more personal level, if it weren’t for the Pell grants I’ve received in my college career, I wouldn’t be able to afford to go to college. My expected parental contribution is $0 and my family has been unable to help me pay for my education, with the exception of buying me a mini fridge for my dorm room freshman year.
I know I’m not the only student in this situation.
A majority of Pell grants go to those college students who are unlikely to succeed in college otherwise, such as first generation students and returning adult students.
Making cuts to Pell grants would only further disadvantage students who are already disadvantaged.
Quite different from the House’s budget, President Obama’s proposed budget would increase education spending and would sustain the $5,500 maximum Pell grant.
While this sounds fantastic, President Obama’s plans for education spending could hurt low-income students, too.
Obama wants to sustain Pell grants, but doing so doesn’t mean that changes wouldn’t be made to the grants whatsoever. The president’s budget would still eliminate Pell grants for summer classes, a newer innovation when it comes to financial aid; the use of Pell grants for summer classes only started in the summer of 2010.
While it feels as though summer Pell grants are still in the trial phase, the administration hasn’t found enough proof that students who take summer classes finish college any sooner than students who don’t. Because of this, they feel that low-income students no longer deserve the summer grants.
Well, good thing they figured that out after one summer before wasting more money on students’ education!
For students who are already struggling to pay their tuition bills, summer school allows them to get out quicker, and therefore save more money. Without Pell grants, many low-income students will not be able to afford summer courses and will be denied the opportunities that other students have.
The summer Pell grants need to be in place for more than three months before it’s decided that they aren’t doing any good.
Looks like students are in a losing battle when it comes to financial aid.
Cuts definitely need to be made in the budget, but not to education and certainly not in a way that harms only low-income students.