House Republicans Propose Freezing Pell Grants, Ending Support For Endowments
Career College Central summary:
House Republicans offered their alternative to President Obama’s fiscal-2015 budget on Tuesday, proposing deep cuts in nondefense programs, including many of interest to higher education. The spending blueprint, which aims to balance the budget in 10 years, would cut overall spending by $5.1-trillion over the next decade. While it stands no chance of passage in the Democratic-led Senate, the document reveals which programs the party will single out for cuts in the coming appropriations season.
Under the plan, which covers the fiscal year that begins on October 1, the maximum Pell Grant would be frozen at its current level for 10 years and would be financed with discretionary dollars only, rather than the current combination of mandatory and discretionary money. That change could make the program more vulnerable to future cuts, its advocates fear.
The plan would also roll back recent expansions of the program, eliminate eligibility for less-than-half-time students, and end administrative payments to participating colleges. It suggests adding a maximum-income cap for students to receive a Pell Grant, though it doesn’t propose a particular level.
In justifying those changes, House Republicans argued that the recent expansions, coupled with growth in the number of recipients, have "made Pell Grants more generous than the federal budget can afford." They contended that the cuts would make the program sustainable in the long term, and would "tailor aid to the truly needy."
But critics, including the Institute for College Access and Success, said cutting Pell Grants would force low-income students to borrow even more, drop out, or forgo college altogether. They pointed out that the program’s costs have declined since 2010 and are projected to remain level over the next decade, after adjusting for inflation.
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