We all know there are some budgetary problems in the government, and that the economy hasn’t been doing too well, but this plan to save a little money could have a huge impact on millions of students headed to college.
Originally, Obama had proposed a freeze in future Pell Grant values, as well as some additional costs for graduate students taking out federal loans. This spending freeze would be in contrast to grant increases made not too long ago, but it would at least keep the level of aid at the current amounts.
In response though, Republicans in the House of Representatives have called for even deeper cuts in the Pell Grant and financial aid programs. A post at the Chronicle cites Mark Kantrowitz in explaining the actual consequences of this proposal:
The student-aid reductions would trim the maximum Pell Grant by 15 percent, or $845, from the $5,550 available to the neediest students now, and make 1.7 million students ineligible for Pell Grants
At the extreme, one Republican budget would eventually reduce the grants to about $3,500 per year over the next few years.
Were it to be passed in the new budget, this would mark the largest cut to this financial aid program since it was originally enacted. As it is, the value of Pell Grants has generally failed to keep up with rising costs in college tuition, and this big cut to the program will just make affording college just a little further out of reach to those students who don’t want to end up in big debt like so many of their peers.
Fortunately, these proposals aren’t in effect yet, and there’s no evidence that they’ll actually make it through the Democratically controlled Senate. Something will have to get cut, but hopefully the Congress can find some programs less valuable to the country than higher education.
It is worth noting that none of these changes have actually gone in to effect yet, and if they do, it will only be for future years. If you’re currently relying on Pell Grants to fund your college costs though, it is probably a good idea to start looking for other scholarships you’re eligible for, or figuring out new ways to save and earn money for college!