More Pell Grant Cuts?

Changes proposed by Republicans to the House funding bill would cut Pell Grants for part-time students.

According to an article by Matthew Dembicki at Community College Times:

An appropriations bill proposed by House Republicans would keep the Pell Grant maximum at $5,550 for fiscal year 2012, but part-time students would no longer be eligible for the grants.

The proposal crafted by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), chair of the Labor, Education, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, would include other changes to Pell to reduce program costs by $2.3 billion in FY12.

Finding funding for Pell Grants, the federal program that provides money to help low-income students to attend college, is a matter of concern for Congress every year, at least in part because demand for Pell increases when the economy gets worse.

The Republican proposal immediately drew criticism from Democrats and interested parties. “We’re not happy with these proposed changes and cuts,” said David Baime, of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). The change would disproportionately affect community college students. The majority of community college students, some 60 percent are enrolled part time. Denying them access to Pell would effectively prevent millions of students from attending college.

Only about 40 percent of Pell Grant recipients actually end up earning bachelor’s degrees.

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