The Fading Dream of Higher Education

My favorite part of being a student admissions tutor at a local high school was seeing kids light up when they realized they could afford college. I would explain how Pell grants and low interest Stafford and Perkins loans could pay for the bulk of college at a good state school. Together with parents and counselors, we made it possible for first-generation students to go to college. Over the years, it's been harder to send bright, promising students to the colleges they deserve. The portion of college costs covered by Pell Grants keeps shrinking with the rising cost of tuition. Now, a new bill in Congress would make it even more difficult for low-income students to attend college by attacking Pell grants and Stafford loans to invest in our future. The Huffington Post explains:
The plan proposed by Ryan (R-Wis.), who chairs the House Budget Committee, would chop away at Pell grant eligibility, thereby reducing total Pell grants by about $200 billion over the next decade; allow the interest rate for federally subsidized Stafford loans to double; end student loan interest subsidies for those still in school; and make Pell spending discretionary -- instead of mandatory -- allowing further cuts down the line. Pell grants, the largest source of federal financial aid, currently help more than 9 million students to afford college. Following last year's budget standoffs, next year's maximum Pell grant of $5,645 will cover just one-third of the average cost of college -- the smallest share ever.
We are undercutting our future. By attacking Pell grant eligibility and doubling the rates on Stafford loans, we are making it harder for low-income Americans to pursue their dreams of college.

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