Pell Grants face uncertain future

Recently, President Barack Obama presented his budget plan. According to Fox News, the plan is estimated to spend $3.55 trillion in the fiscal year 2012, and the White House determined that about three percent or $9.8 billion will go to education. Unfortunately, low-income college students are under attack by the proposed budget cuts. The Pell Grant Program, specifically, is going to take some cuts under the new plan.

Students who are eligible for the Pell Grant are facing proposed cuts to the maximum amount they can receive by as much as 15 percent, or $845 per student.

That is, if a student qualifies for a Pell Grant, the student cannot receive any more than $4,705 each academic year. This also means that Pell Grants for summer classes and programs will be totally eliminated.
Last summer was the first time that the summer Pell was given out to college students. Here at Grambling State University approximately 730 students received the Pell Grant.

To receive the Pell Grant you would have to already be a recipient during the fall and spring semester and have a minimum of 25 earned credit hours during that time period. However this summer’s Pell Grants process will be a little different.

“Students need to have their 2011-2012 FASFA before the summer Pell Grant application is processed,” said Albert Tezeno, director of Financial Aid. Students must also take six hours in the summer to receive the maximum summer Pell Grant.

Also taking a hit are students at the graduate level. Under the new budget cut, graduate students will no longer be able to receive subsidized loans, meaning that the government will no longer pay the interest on any student loan for any student with at least a bachelor’s degree.

Obama’s administration supports the cuts to summer grants, and cuts to graduate subsidized loans. The administration says that they are trying to save the Pell Grant, and keep it at its current maximum of $5,550 each year per student.

“We’re making some tough choices to protect the Pell Grant,” said Justin Hamilton, spokesman for the Department of Education. “We’re cutting where we can so that we can invest where we must.”

According to The New York Times, House Republicans however are responsible for the proposed cut to the maximum amount, along with a plan to cut overall education expenses by 56 million over the course of the next decade.

This plan includes a $1.1 million cut to the Head Start program that will affect 200,000 children at the pre-school level, and the 50,000 jobs that come with their care.

Pell Grants are part of a federal financial aid program that 9.4 million college students rely on each year.

Their overall attitude about educational expenses is summed up by John Kline, House Republican of Minnesota, chairman of House Education and Workforce Committee:
“Over the last 45 years, we have increased our investment in education, but the return on that investment has failed to improve student achievement. Throwing more money on at our nation’s broken school system ignores reality and does a disservice to students and taxpayers.