In summer 2011, Congress considered cutting Pell Grants - awards used by lower-income students to pay for higher education - in an attempt to cut costs. Advocacy group Education Trust mobilized nearly 30,000 Change.org members to send messages to Congress and the White House, stressing that protecting Pell Grant funding was non-negotiable. Their voices, and the voices of countless other higher education advocates, meant Pell Grants were saved. It was a bittersweet victory, however: Many other vital education benefits were cut instead. Education Trust and supporting groups continue to urge Congress to preserve education opportunities for all Americans.
Students struggling to afford higher education are at risk of being among the first victims of Washington’s current budget battle.
One GOP leader recently called Pell Grants “the welfare of the 21st century.” Another top Republican called this critical financial-aid program “unsustainable” and blamed it for the skyrocketing cost of college — despite both empirical evidence and common sense.
Poor and working-class students have already contributed to deficit reduction. With the elimination of the summer Pell program earlier this year, they “contributed” $4 billion per year to debt reduction. Enough is enough!
We need to make it clear to President Obama that protecting Pell Grant funding is non-negotiable. He needs to know that we must not sacrifice even a single dollar of support for hard-working, poor and working-class students.
Now more than ever, the pressure is on the president. Republican leaders stormed out of debt-ceiling negotiations, refusing to even discuss closing tax loopholes and scaling back subsidies, deductions and tax credits for corporate jets, big oil and the super rich.
They’ve made it clear that they’ll only support one debt-reduction strategy: cut, cut, cut. They’re placing enormous political pressure on the president to slash funding for Pell, even though putting money into education is precisely the kind of investment we need to fuel the long-term growth of our economy.
The president must not cave in to this pressure by throwing college students under the bus.
Say “no” to decreasing the maximum Pell award of $5,550 per year. Say “no” to changing Pell’s eligibility requirements to disqualify hard-working students from the support they need. Say “no” to sacrificing even one more student’s future.
Take action and write to President Obama today. Tell him to stand up for students and save Pell.