As College Affordability Wanes, Will Congress Cut Pell Grant Aid?
Jun 25, 2012
Forty years ago this past Saturday, the Pell Grant program became law. Over the past four decades, the federal government has provided a much-needed hand to over 60 million low- and modest-income students wanting to earn a higher education and advance in the workforce. Last year alone, 9 million students were able to get one step closer to the American dream because they received a Pell Grant to help cover the rising costs of a college credential. But, there is a dark cloud looming. Just as the program is serving an historic number of students struggling to afford college, some in Congress are poised to make deep cuts to the program - cutting off millions of students from low-income families, some who are right in the middle of their education.
These cuts are personal to me and millions of students pursuing their education as a stepping-stone to the American dream. Twenty years ago, I was a Pell Grant recipient. I was the first in my family to go to college. Neither of my parents had the experience to advise me on how to choose a college, apply for financial aid, or select a major. And, they certainly did not have the ability to help me pay for college since they were struggling with money problems of their own. I was on my own, and it was scary looking at that huge college budget as an 18-year-old, albeit it was much smaller than what today's students face. But, when I saw the Pell Grant on my financial aid letter, I realized that I was not alone. The federal government - the nation - was on my side as I conquered new territory, tackled economic and academic challenges, and worked hard toward a bachelor's degree.