Protecting Pell? Critics Say Budget Wouldn't

"The document outlining the Trump administration's first budget, released in a bare-bones outline Thursday, states that the White House plan 'safeguards' the Pell Grant program and would leave the key financial aid source for needy students on 'sound financial footing for the next decade,'" Inside Higher Ed reports. "But many advocates for low-income students say the opposite is true."

"By taking about a third of the program's multi-billion-dollar surplus and cutting other college access programs, they assert, the new administration would jeopardize Pell's long-term sustainability and harm the prospects of low-income students.

... The budget preserves current levels of funding for the federal Pell Grant program by taking $3.9 billion from the program's $10.6 billion surplus -- a cushion that advocates had hoped to see preserved, if not used to strengthen the grant or restore year-round Pell.

It eliminates entirely support for the SEOG program -- which serves students with household incomes similar to Pell recipients -- while calling for 'drastic' cuts to the Federal Work-Study program.

Representatives of college and university groups as well as college-access advocates focused much of their ire on the cuts to Pell, saying the program would be worse off the next time it experiences serious demand.

'Taking money out of a discretionary program that operates like an entitlement program is never a good idea,' said Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

The White House blueprint isn't a binding document or even a guide to what Congress might do in the appropriations process. But Draeger, of NASFAA, said it couldn't simply be dismissed out of hand.

'The administration has offered up a menu of acceptable cuts to Congress,' he said."

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.

 

Publication Date: 3/17/2017

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