Protect Pell Grants: Protect the Middle Class

Cutting the Pell Grant program – the ticket to the American Dream for 9.4 million college students this year alone – is exactly what you don’t want to do in an economic recession, said a panel of U.S. Senators, college presidents, and students on Tuesday.

“This is America’s future,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-MD. “It’s not about the next election – it’s about the next generation…. President Obama was right (when he said) we need to ‘out-educate’ to meet the challenges of the future.”

But Pell Grants are on the chopping block again as Obama and congressional leaders seek a budget deal that would reduce federal spending. Proposals under consideration might slash the size of the need-based tuition grants or increase the number of credits required to qualify.

It’s unclear how many students could be affected. Earlier this year, a budget proposal that passed the House would have lowered the maximum award from $5,500 to $3,040 and denied eligibility to 1.4 million current recipients, destroying the dreams of countless families.

“They want to cut Pell Grants enormously,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, warned Tuesday. “They want to keep tax breaks for the pampered and prosperous and nail Pell Grants.”

“We need you to lend your voices, your Blackberries, your iPhones, to reach out to Facebook, to Twitter, to lead your own revolution to preserve your future,” she urged students.

(Urge Congress to do the right thing! It’s not just about protecting Pell Grants: additional proposals to tax employer-sponsored health care or cut Social Security would be devastating to millions of middle-class working families.)

But it’s not just about the dreams of individual students, like Veronica Mora, a first-generation college student at St. Cloud University in Minnesota, who said on Tuesday, “Without the Pell Grant, I could not afford to continue. I could not afford to graduate and make my dreams come true.”

It’s also about the future of this country.

These students are the nation’s future taxpayers and homeowners. They are being trained for much-needed jobs in health services, education, law enforcement, and other fields.

“I don’t think you can say that you have the best interests of this country at heart and cut Pell Grants…It’s like cutting seed corn,” said Leo Morton, chancellor at University of Missouri-Kansas City.  “An educated workforce is essential to our survival,” agreed John Welty, president of the California State University, Fresno, where more than 50 percent of students rely on Pell to pay tuition.

A recent Georgetown University study shows that, by 2018, the United States will need 22 million new workers with college degrees to meet the burgeoning needs of employers – but it likely will fall short by 3 million.

“And that, quite simply, is something we can’t afford,” the authors wrote.

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  • America

    American Dream (definition 1)

    — n
    the American Dream the notion that the American social, economic, and political system makes success possible for every individual.

    At what point did we start believing that other people are responsible for our success? The government, your neighbor, and our economy have no bearing whatsoever on your success.

    American Dream (definition 2)
    the ideals of freedom, equality, and opportunity traditionally held to be available to every American.

    If you believe this statement, then shouldn’t everyone (regardless of social/economic status) receive “free aid” for their education? The middle class do not receive the Pell Grant. In fact, the more money (success) you make decreases your chances of receiving a Pell Grant.

    Let me get this straight…the harder I work, the more money I make, the more taxes I pay, and the less “free” government assistance I will receive for my education. That means I have to take out a loan and pay interest on that loan…to which goes back into the “free aid” that I will never see? What is my incentive for keeping a steady minimum wage job if I will make more money going to college on my Pell Grant?

    If you want to know why we will 22 million new workers with college degrees – you just got your answer.

    This is NOT rocket science people. If you want something – you should pay for it. Why is there a double standard when it comes to education? Sure, everyone deserves to learn…but why should someone else pay for you to go to college? Education is not a RIGHT. It is EARNED.

    Why do we call people greedy who want to keep their own money, yet those who feel entitled to other peoples money we call needy?

    If we are going to offer the Pell Grant it should be based on the students previous GPA, or their contribution to society. It should not be based on how little they contribute to society, or how many children they have living in their household. Does anyone else see how terribly backwards this is to the American Dream?

    To Veronica Mora’s comment, “Without the Pell Grant, I could not afford to continue. I could not afford to graduate and make my dreams come true.”

    How is it that so many other people earned a degree without a Pell Grant by using student loans, yet you are incapable?

    Regarding Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s comment. “They want to keep tax breaks for the pampered and prosperous and nail the Pell Grant.”

    YES. We want to award those who actually contribute to society, worked very hard to make a living, and have not made excuses as to why someone else didn’t afford them opportunities. Also, the pampered and prosperous pay MORE TAXES than the middle class. They are the ones who are affording the Pell Grant to EXIST. You’re right, we should punish them for working hard and giving away their tax dollars to those in NEED.

    Articles like this encourage entitlement, and enable people. I’m not saying that the Pell Grant should not be awarded, but it should be heavily regulated.

  • jodi

    yes I am married. I made a commentment to god and meant it. My child was wanted. I only had one,because that is what I could afford. I raised my child,not daycare,I worked 3rd shift so I could raise MY CHILD. I worked everyday so I could pay my bills. I do not buy what I can not afford. I live with in my means. I do not buy now and pay later even though I can. My child is Smart. and works part-time. I have never asked or wanted assistance. This is how I get repaid. My child is NOT eligiable for grants, I will have to take out loans for college, at high rate I might add, while the lazy and worthless get everything. Unmarried,working the system, with babies daddy, living high on the government. Just a little bitter, Maybe I should throw my child out and divorce so we can get grants. This is the american way. I have morels so I am screwed