More than 8 million students across the country are breathing easier as they head to college knowing that, after the budget deal that raised the nation’s debt ceiling, Pell Grants and other federal financial aid programs remain relatively intact. By sustaining funding for student aid, at least for now, the nation’s economy has caught a bit of a break.
Pell Grant recipients become the backbone of America’s trained work force. They run many of the high-tech machines that drive our manufacturing industries. They work as nurses and police officers. They become our engineers and educators, our city managers, doctors and lawyers — and, yes, they even become members of Congress.
Congress’ blind pursuit of tactics to prune the deficit puts future funding for Pell Grants at risk. Just as many members of Congress themselves received federal financial aid and leveraged it to achieve their current positions of power and prestige, they would do well to understand that student aid is among the best investments that our nation can make.
Opponents of federal student aid argue that a college education benefits primarily the person who receives it. That’s generally true, of course, but in our focus on this easily communicated point, we fail to consider the very real and very substantial benefits to our communities and our national security generated by college-educated workers.
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