As the U.S. Congress continues negotiations to stave off a federal government shutdown, representatives from the Ohio Public Interest Research Group were joined by a Pell Grant recipient and Caroline Miller, senior associate vice president for Enrollment at the University of Cincinnati to urge the Ohio Congressional delegation to protect vital investments to college aid.
COLUMBUS - As the U.S. Congress continues negotiations to stave off a federal government shutdown, representatives from the Ohio Public Interest Research Group were joined by a Pell Grant recipient and Caroline Miller, senior associate vice president for Enrollment at the University of Cincinnati to urge the Ohio Congressional delegation to protect vital investments to college aid.
The recently House-passed spending resolution makes deep cuts to the Pell Grant while largely leaving in place wasteful subsidies and tax loopholes for special interests. Pell Grants are the Federal governments’ cornerstone financial aid program that 9.4 million college students rely on each year to pay for the college courses that are fueling our recovering workforce and economy.
“Tough choices are supposed come only after the easy ones,” said Rich Williams, Ohio PIRG’s Higher Education Advocate. “It’s unbelievable to imagine how cuts to Pell Grants come before cuts to Goldman Sachs and BP oil. And yet, that’s exactly what the House resolution does.”
The cuts slash the maximum award a student can receive by $845, a little more than 15 percent, for the students who can afford it the least. Next school year, a student currently receiving the $5,550 maximum award would see their aid dropped to $4,705. Because of the severity of these cuts, 7.5 million students will lose the full $845 to their aid, while millions more will see a 15 percent cut. These cuts would reverse recent student aid reform legislation stripping an extra $66 billion from Pell grant funding in the coming decade.
In Ohio, 356,000 students will receive a Pell grant next year. Should the House spending plan become law, our state will lose $215 million in Pell funding, a cut from $1.11 billion to $894 million.
“The timing of the proposal to cut Pell is troubling,” said Caroline Miller, senior associate vice president for enrollment at the University of Cincinnati. “We have already packaged aid for this next academic year and notified families of their estimated aid. We have no ability to make up a cut to Pell grant aid with institutional aid so students and families will be forced to make tough choices on their ability to finance their education.”
Education drives economic growth. Eighty percent of the fastest growing jobs in America demand training above a high school level. Current estimates show America needs 22 million more degrees by 2018, however we are on pace to be 3 million short because of high college costs.
In the current economy, 43 states have already cut funding to higher education, pushing more costs onto students themselves. Rising costs will prevent over three million college qualified students from low and moderate-income backgrounds from getting a degree this decade. Pell Grant funding must be maintained in order to deliver the skilled workers our economy demands.
Ohio PIRG has helped identify over $600 billion in spending reductions over 5 years that have support across the political spectrum. These cuts total more than the House passed spending bill.
“Rather than cutting education and risking the health of our workforce and economic recovery, Congress should focus on other low-hanging fruit,” Williams said. “We urge Senator Brown and Senator Portman to vote against any budget extension that includes cuts to Pell grants.”