Remember the reports saying that federal college assistance is a contributing factor for rising tuition fees? Well, one Representative latched on to that news pretty quick and is gunning to cut down federal assistance.
That Representative is Paul Ryan (R-WI), who wants to cut eligibility to Pell Grants because of ballooning student debt. He cites the aforementioned reports saying that federal assistance causes increased tuition fees, along with other reasons like how our definition of “truly needy” covers people that are not truly in need of financial assistance.
There are, however, many glaring problems with Ryan’s reasoning.
First up is the fact that Ryan failed to point out that only private colleges have been noted to raise their tuition fees as their access to federal assistance increases. The study showing this link between financial assistance and tuition fees found no evidence that public universities – which accommodate 75% of all college enrollees – respond the same way as private colleges.1
Next is the fact that the vast majority of Pell grant recipients have an income of $30,000 or less – 74% to be precise. And that’s already the total family income, not just individual income. These are the types of people who live on a day’s wages, and they need all the help they can to finance their education so that they can move up a ladder in society.
Rep. Ryan does, however, have a point with student debt.
Our addiction to student debt and the devastating it has for the years after graduation are problems that indeed need fixing as soon as possible. The last thing we need is a generation of “debt-serfs” – post-recession graduates who can’t move along in life because of massive debt caused by a degree that does not pay off enough to cover the interest.
It’s just that cutting access to Pell Grants is not a solution to that problem.