College Grants for Low-Income Students Survives Budget Cuts – Barely
Washington, D.C. (CollegeToCareers.com) – In February, President Barack Obama pushed forward with anticipated budget cuts by proposing considerable cutbacks in government spending, not least those that affect students in pursuit of their education.
Resisting calls by deficit hawks and others to slash spending, the Obama administration requested $77.4 billion as a whole in education funding – representing a 4 percent increase from the 2010 budget.
While many federal funds for aspiring college students and education programs survived, Pell grants seemed to receive the biggest axe. Many Pell grant supporters and analysts feared its dismissal altogether.
College students are currently eligible to receive a maximum of $5,500 in Pell grants – funds that will never require repaying. While Obama preserved that amount, he eliminated an interest subsidy for graduate students and asked for a year-round benefit that would encourage undergraduates to leave campus with their degree within four years.
The new proposal from the Obama administration would largely keep the Pell grant as is, but Congress is traditionally responsible for approving a budget that goes to the president’s desk – and not the other way around.
Veering to the right, Republican members of Congress state their intentions to remove $845 from the Pell grant entirely. This would significantly slash the funds available for struggling students and encourage a movement toward private loans, analysts fear.
Analysts also suggest that an axe to Pell grants could spell serious trouble for historically black colleges and universities with high Latino enrollments.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 46 percent of all African-American undergraduates receive Pell grants. The rates at which Latinos accept Pell grants to pay for higher education continue to rise as well.
Amounting to $15 billion in 2008 dollars, the Pell grant program is known to support low-income and minority students with needs to pay for their higher education costs. Millions of students are known to rely on the Pell grant as a cheap, affordable way to pay for tuition fees, books, and other expenses.