Lawmakers vote to cut $303 million from Pell Grant program
While the government claims to be working to make college more affordable for students, actions speak louder than words.
The House of Representatives voted last week to cut $303 million from the federal Pell Grant program–a program that provides low-income students with grants to help pay for college.
Pell grant cuts hurt low income students
As college costs have risen, financial aid has become a necessity for most students, and students have relied on the Pell grant program to help reduce their out-of-pocket costs.
The grants are typically given to students whose household incomes are less than $20,000 a year, but they can be awarded to students from families with incomes as high as $50,000 depending on other circumstances.
Pell grant amounts aren’t big to begin with (the maximum for the 2014-15 school year is just $5,830), and these cuts will likely decrease the average grant even more. The maximum Pell grant payouts have not been rising proportionally to the increased cost of college, forcing low-income students to make up the difference with student loans.
For example, during the 2013-14 school year, the maximum grant a student could receive was $5,645, which covered only 31% of the cost of a year attending a four-year public school. In 1971, however, the Pell grant covered 77% of the cost.
And experts say this latest move will hurt the students who need financial aid the most even further. Outstanding student loan debt is currently at a record high of $1.3 trillion in the U.S., and the number will likely rise as a result of these cuts.
Furthermore, the cuts will make it even more difficult for minority students to go to college.
According to the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), sixty percent of black undergraduates and 51% of Latino undergraduates currently receive benefits from the program and will be hit the hardest when there’s less money to go around.
Making college affordable in an era of high costs
We’re certainly disappointed in this decision, as it will make it more difficult for families to afford to send their kids to college. College costs will be rising for the foreseeable future, and students need ways to make college affordable without resorting to loans.
It’s never been more important for families college-bound to be financially prudent when choosing a college and figuring out how to pay for it.
If cost is a concern, our consultants can help you find affordable colleges and maximize your financial aid package. Call us at 1-888-234-3907 for a free consultation or contact us using this form and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.