Opinion: Don’t Let Good News on Summer Pell Grants Distract From the Trump Budget’s Damaging Higher-Ed Proposals

"The Trump administration has a funny way of showing support for the Pell Grant program, which helps low-income students afford college," Marcella Bombardieri and Ben Miller of the Center for American Progress write in a piece for The Hechinger Report.

"First, in its recently released federal budget proposal, the administration proposes to bring back the year-round Pell Grant program — a popular idea already enacted into law weeks earlier by Congress — by cutting money allocated for the grant.

Then, it proposes 'safeguarding' Pell by pulling out $3.9 billion from its accumulated surplus.

Restoring year-round Pell is to be celebrated – although the credit goes to Congress, not the administration. But don’t let that good news distract from the Trump budget’s deeply damaging proposals that target higher education and student aid — including raiding the Pell surplus.

Repurposing a surplus may not sound like the most outrageous or damaging proposal in President Donald Trump’s budget. But it’s a slap in the face to millions of students who made sacrifices to build up that safety net. After all, the current $10.6 billion surplus did not appear out of thin air. It was paid for by students, for the sake of students. And any amount that gets taken from the surplus today increases the odds of deeper cuts tomorrow.

Understanding how hard-fought the Pell surplus is requires a look at the program’s recent history.

For years, Pell — which next year will offer up to $5,920 a year per qualifying student — had been in a fairly steady state of size and funding. But the financial crisis beginning in 2007 meant that more people — traditional-aged students as well as adults — couldn’t get jobs, so education became the answer to their predicament.

At the same time, many families were worse off financially, so more students qualified for the Pell. Congress also made the Pell award more generous through three infusions of funding in 2007, 2009, and 2010."

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: 6/2/2017

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