The Pell Grant Fix

As part of the budget discussions one of the proposals under consideration is to reduce Pell Grants, the federal program that provides money for postsecondary education to students from low income families.

That’s probably not such a responsible fiscal plan, according to an opinion piece by Rich Williams and Justin Draeger in USA Today:

The ironic outcome of reducing funding for student aid programs in the name of debt reduction is that young adults experience higher debt burden early in their careers when they are least able to afford it, or they are forced to opt out of education entirely. A college degree is practically a necessity in the 21st century and, yet, for many young adults, it is getting harder to afford.

The Pell Grant, the nation’s cornerstone aid program, provides invaluable offsets to the overall debt burden students face and is for many recipients the difference between sustainable and unsustainable debt. Students on the margin and the nation as a whole can ill afford to tip the scales in favor of unsustainable debt by approving shortsighted cuts to college aid.

Cutting Pell Grant funding in an effort to save future generations from debt would be ironic as it would force low-income college students to take on more student loans, actual personal debt, which would arguably be far worse for them financially.

The average graduating senior in 2009 had $24,000 in student-loan debt, according to the article.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer