President Trump’s proposal introduces cuts to Pell Grants and federal student aid programs.
Opinion By Brittany Zelada, Staff Writer
A new budget proposal set by the Trump Administration may set in motion reductions of Pell Grants and federal student aid programs putting low-income students at risk of increased debt and not having the opportunity to attend college.
College students from low and middle-class families will suffer the most with this new proposal if it is passed through Congress. Our nation has switched priorities in regards as to what is necessary in education. In the 2015-2016 academic year College Board recorded that about 7.9 million students received the Pell grant to attend college. The demand for student aid is increasing every year due to an increasingly competitive job market.
In America we value the “American Dream” where one can start from the bottom and work their way to the top. Most middle and low-income families are our nation’s definition of the “American Dream” and education is what betters society, brings new discoveries, and acceptance. The hypocrisy of the Trump administration promising a $20 billion “school choice” grant, to expand access to charter and private schools for low-income K-12 students, is irrelevant when reducing the resources of college students and diminishing their dreams of higher education.
As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
The proposal cuts $9 million from the U.S. Department of Education which will impact higher education. Pell grants help the majority of middle and low-income students attend college. These grants give up to $5,920 to students whose families earn less than $40,000 a year—without having to be paid back. According to a report by USA TODAY College, Pell grants are the largest expense in the U.S. Department of Education, investing $28.2 billion on Pell grants in the 2015-2016 academic year. Proposed reduction to student-aid programs like the Pell grant will take away the opportunity for many students to attending college.
In a report from Inside Higher Ed ,the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) senior member, Democrat Patty Murray said, “Deep cuts to funding and eligibility for campus-based aid, college access programs, and a significant raid of Pell Grant funds would harm low- and middle-income families and their ability to access and succeed in higher education.”
Statistics by the College Board state that out of 22 million undergraduates in the 2015-2016 academic year 33 percent received Pell grants at their institutions of choice.
Under the new budget not only will it affect the Pell grant, it will put at risk the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEO grant). This federal grant, according to The Washington Post ,is a $732 million program that provided aid to 1.6 million students in the 2014-2015 academic year. Similar to the Pell grant, it does not have to be paid back by the student and usually the grant awards up to $4,000 depending on financial aid.
The Trump Administration has set its priorities not in favor for college students and education, but in military and defense funding, increasing those by about 7-9 percent. America already spends about $6 billion on the military as is, while most college students are struggling with the burden of debt and survival. Reported by National Public Radio (NPR) a survey conducted by the University of Wisconsin showed that one third of community college students live in poverty and 14 percent are homeless in 24 states.
The proposal will be up for debate in Congress, leaving a trail of uncertainty for future and current college students in the nation who want to pursue higher education. Taking away the resource of thousands of students, while investing in war and propaganda will not make America great again. Let’s make America smart again, by pushing towards alleviating the burdens of students wanting to pursue higher education.