Ten-year $100 billion cut may hit Pell Grant Program

The U.S. Congress is preparing to vote on wide-reaching budget cuts that could affect the academic livelihood, and survival of many college students.

President Barack Obama’s 2012 federal budget takes aim at Pell grants and loans for graduate students. The cuts proposed would decrease the available funds from the Federal Pell Grant program by $100 billion over the next 10 years, taking effect Oct. 1.

The reduction of Pell grants would come in two stages: an end to the “year-round-Pell” tradition of allowing students to collect two grants – one for the normal fall-through-spring year as well as one for summer term. The new cuts would eliminate grants for the summer term and limit the yearly allowances. This cut would save the federal government $8 billion in the upcoming year and $60 billion throughout the next decade.

The good news is the maximum amount of the Pell grant, $5,500 per term, won’t be affected; though, again, allowances for summer term would be eliminated altogether.

The second item on the chopping block is the accrued interest of federal loans to graduate students, who under the proposal would have to begin to pay back those loans while still being enrolled in school. Currently, on certain loans, students do not have to pay interest until they graduate. This policy would change under the proposed budget, charging graduate students interest while they are still enrolled. The savings from the interest would amount to $2 billion in the next year and $29 billion over the next 10 years for the feds.

Congress will have to approve both measures before they are enacted.

Although the Obama administration is under pressure from all sides to cut costs in any way possible, one has to wonder where other cuts, rather than those affecting future entries into the job market, might be made.

The defense cuts proposed for this year are $42 billion less than originally requested. But, the original proposal called for an increase of $5 billion from the year before, bringing the total up to $553 billion.

A budget of $553 billion … really?

Now, some are going to say that I’m a leftist commie who doesn’t support the military. Wrong. I believe in certain actions taken by our military and support the soldiers whole-heartedly, but I think the time comes when we have to put on hold the production of new weaponry and certain experimental developments in order to preserve other things.

I’m a student, but I’m trying my damndest to be objective. I know the military needs funding, and I don’t want my loans cut, so where is the middle ground? The reason I bring up defense as an obvious point for cuts is because it consistently eats up so much of our federal budget. I realize wartime is expensive, and I don’t want our military to be under-funded. But, despite the horror stories of soldiers being without armor-plated vests, previous administrations have spent ridiculous amounts on the development of experimental weaponry that wouldn’t be used for decades, and shouldn’t be used at all, instead of meeting the needs of the soldiers in the field. Let alone funding the much-needed Veteran’s facilities for use after they come home.

A time comes when every aspect of our budget has to be kept in check, and the time is nigh.



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