Pell Grants At Risk Under Paul Ryan’s Proposals

With the summer drawing to a close, students are preparing to return to their college campuses and many under the shadow of debt. For the past four decades, college costs have risen faster than inflation; the amount of outstanding student debt is now $1 trillion. In a Bloomberg article, Tom Wolanin, a deputy assistant education secretary in the Clinton administration, goes so far as to say that students today are “indentured” and comprise a “debtor class of former students.”

The majority of students at the urban institution where I teach are first-generation college students (and often, first generation Americans). Most, if not all, receive some form of financial aid. I also advise students about applying for external scholarships (i.e., those not provided by my school’s financial aid office) and, usually in the middle of the fall semester, a small stream of students appears at my office, asking “do I know of any scholarships?” they can apply for.

I’m never happy about the answer I have to give them but it’s one of those situations when you don’t have a choice. We look at lists of scholarships, many from local foundations or organizations and the students meet a painful truth: The scholarships you apply for this year are for funds for next year. The students don’t want to say it, but they need the funds right now: I suspect that it’s only when the first tuition bill shows up in their mailbox that they and their parents really realize, they can’t pay. A couple of students have said quiet good-byes to me at the end of the semester, to resurface at far cheaper community colleges.

Many of the students at my school receive Pell Grants, which provide need-based aid to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students. Funding for these would be slashed under Representative Paul Ryan’s budget plan, with its demand to cut domestic discretionary spending by 22 percent in fiscal year 2014.

Care2 blogger Judy Molland has made it clear why the Ryan-Romney ticket is bad for our children’s education. She noted that Ryan has “voted repeatedly against increasing Pell Grants.”  Education Week explains what could happen to the grants under Ryan’s budget:

Mr. Ryan’s proposal would make big changes to the Pell Grant program, which would ultimately result in fewer students’ meeting the eligibility requirements of those grants for low-income college students. It would also eliminate interest-free benefits on subsidized Stafford Loans, according to an analysis by the New America Foundation, a think tank in Washington.

President Obama has made education spending a priority — the $100 billion stimulus for education programs in 2009, a request to Congress this year for $55 billion to avert teacher layoffs — and has been on the attack; his campaign has released television ads saying that Ryan’s plan will “cut college aid for nearly 10 million students.” My students would certainly be among those.

Education Week asserts that the choice of Ryan has made education much more of an issue in the presidential race and, specifically, how much a role should government play in education. I’d like Paul Ryan to know that students would prefer not to have to take out loans and apply for grants, that they’d rather not have to ask for help but they sure appreciate it  – whereas, under Ryan’s plan, they might not even be able to ask for much-needed aid at all.



Related Care2 Coverage

8 Reasons The Ryan-Romney Combo Is Bad For Our Children’s Future

Romney: Students Should Get ‘As Much Education As They Can Afford’

House Passes Ryan Budget, Calls It “Vision” Of GOP In Charge


Photo by James B Currie


Wendy Schroeder
Wendy Schroeder6 years ago

I have older friends in my age bracket going to school on Pell Grants. They are Baby Boomers like myself who are trying to better their lives. The Republican party would like to see the "masses" stay ignorant so they can be controlled. Romney/Ryan is about power and control. Do not vote for these narcissists and sociopaths.

Lika S.
Lika P6 years ago

Yup, we're all supposed to be "entrepreneurs", because the Republicans say we're all qualified. yet we're too stooped four an college edumacation.

Pamela D.
Pamela D6 years ago

I don't believe it is Obama that is failing the american people; I believe it is the do nothing Congress Obama put a stimulus that included infrasture josbs; education and green energy. To say that green energy went belly up is a lie. My town received a grant to offer residents cheaper options for going green with solar power for their homes and town buildings. There are many interested including me. I can testify to all that the green energy funds are working. As for job and educations; it is the individual states that are saying "no" to these things most being republican, are trying to make Obama fail; and do not have their communities best interest in mind. There folks got to go! Repubicans WANTED Obama to fail right from the start...doesn't anyone understand that? How can a president succeed under these circumstances. I didn't like Bush either, but being my president, I supported him even though he didn't get my vote. That's what americans "used" to do. But not this congress!! I can't help but think many of them are racist! What else could it be? Not to compromise is to accept failure. But that was their agenda the entire time, just turn on Fox News TV or radio and it is disgusting and disgraceful! How did they ever think they would pay for these two wars Bush got is into while lowering taxes? Can anyone answer that? Even in his first year, Ronald Reagan (whom they all claim to adore) raised taxes to keep us solvent! It is welfare reform that we need; I

Linda T.
Linda T6 years ago

Wow can this election get any stranger? An election based only on lies is gaining traction. We should all be very frieghtened.

Ken W.
Ken W6 years ago

R and R is a bad for the USA !!

Thomas S.
Thomas S6 years ago

Hey, @Denise H, obviously, you are angry, but where have you been the past 4 years??

Obama did have Hundred$ of Billion$ in the ARRA (aka 'Stimulus') for highway projects. Our area has already gotten 4 decades-overdue bridges and interchanges on the I-10 with a couple more recent groundbreakings. His ARRA was packed with Infrastructure money.

However, we live in a republic, not a dictatorship. Obama has very limited Constitutional Powers to "order" anything. Your Governor and legislature has to "buy in". Look at all the Red States which turned down the 'Stimulus Funds'.

I am not an Obama supporter, but the G-NO-Party leaves me no choice. O has proposed and urged much more Jobs proposals, but the G-NO-Party hasn't let them out of the Senate. Again, the Dems in the Senate cannot force the G-NO-P to even allow the bills or appointments to be voted on.

What has O thrown "money away" on?

What has O "hidden .. of his past"?? He wrote 2 books on it!?!?!?!
When Romney, son of a Mexican, is hiding his Tax Returns and Hundred$ of $Million$ Off-shore, I find yours a very peculiar statement.

Luis L.
Luis L6 years ago

Pell Grants have helped thousands if not millions of deserving students get a college education. I myself benefited from grants and loans to help me get through college. My widowed mother was able to continue to receive Social Security widows benefits to help her raise my younger sister. It is what allowed our family to move up economically and not remain dependent on welfare. I don't know how students are able to make it through school nowadays since costs keep going up and grants keep going down. The entire system of higher education needs to be overhauled completely. I support free universal access to higher education that does not make us slaves to loans for the rest of our life. I paid off my loans through service and in cash after a few years. Today a student load can take 20 to 30 years to pay off. Something is not right.

Denise Hickey
Denise Hickey6 years ago

Part 2 of 2: Obama should have ordered interstate highways to be repaired. Each state should have received funds for that purpose. He could have told each state that the workers needed to come from the unemployment line and welfare line of each county. Had this been done, each county would have seen improvements in their section of highway, their economy and their budget. Each state would have seen an improvement in their economy and the federal government would have seen an improvement in revenue as well. People would have been working and paying taxes. Yes, the jobs would end but in the mean time, new businesses could have opened. However, he chose to throw the money away. He has NOT been responsible. He has NOT been honest as he has hidden too much of his past. All politicians are nothing but political prostitutes in search of power. I didn't vote for Obama but I gave him a chance and I do not approve of what he has done.

Denise Hickey
Denise Hickey6 years ago

Part 1 of 2: Thank you John C. I will take my chances come November. I can write Romney and Ryan as I have Obama and Biden. I may even get the same response from Romney/Ryan as I have gotten from Obama/Biden which would be none. However, I am done being raked over the coals by Obama. These Obamabots, as you called them, for some unknown reason, believe he has been good for the middle class and poor. They have yet to open their eyes and see that he has just about destroyed the middle class (the class of people that have in fact carried the burden of the country on their backs). He talks about jobs but does nothing. He had a chance to put people to work with his stimulus but chose to give the money to "green" energy businesses that went belly up shortly after being funded. That money, which he informed us would be for "shovel ready" jobs should have been used on the infrastructure.

devon leonard
Devon Leonar6 years ago

Yep, and a lot more will be at risk as well if we elect those fools.