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.
That’s a tradeoff our country and our economy simply can’t afford.
Without financial aid, higher education is out of reach for most Americans. By age 24, the children of the wealthy are 10 times more likely to have a college degree than are the children of the poor. Our nation — built on the values of education, hard work and opportunity — cannot sustain this growing divide between the haves and the have-nots.
Thirty years ago, the maximum Pell award was equivalent to about three-fourths of the cost of attending a four-year public college. Today, it covers only about one-third — and that’s after recent increases made to the program. Nearly 10 million hard-working college students who rely on Pell Grants to afford higher education and job training need you to fight to protect their funding and their futures.
Don’t balance the budget on the backs of low-income Americans. Please save Pell.