Effective July 1, Pell Grants will either be reduced or completely eliminated for students who have no high school diploma, no General Education Development (GED) certificate or have spent more than six years in college. Stricter income requirements make obtaining Pell Grants even more difficult.
The estimated casualty count: an estimated 300,000 or so American students.
This previously unknown but now all-too-apparent congressional decision is expected to “save” the government $11 billion over 10 years. In theory, at least.
In practice, you have collegiate dropping out of school or taking out costly private loans in order to further their studies. These students will form the backbone of America’s future, especially since Pell Grant recipients come from low-income families and show the most potential to jump up from their current status in life into one that is more profitable (and pays more taxes) in the long run.
This is especially painful for Latino and African-American students. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, Latinos make up 31 percent of those that take the ability-to-benefit test while African-Americans make up 19 percent of the same.1
It is worth noting, however, that students who enroll in college anytime before July 1 will still be eligible for Pell Grants and state scholarships.
This still does not change the fact that one of our country’s most lucrative investments in its own people is being axed by short-sighted budget hawks. No matter what these people say, Pell Grants provide a ladder for low-income families to propel themselves up higher in the socio-economic ladder of life. Taking that ladder away might indeed save $11 billion over 10 years, but the social and financial costs of a noncompetitive workforce will take much, MUCH more out of our economy in the long run.
And we are already seeing this in the student loan crisis looming over our nation. There are no big banks falling, no corporations folding up or financial institutions going bust – just hundreds of thousands of “little people” groaning in agony over the burden of student debt.
And mark my words, America will cease to be what it is today if we sacrifice the long-term benefits of educational grants in exchange for short-term scrimping and saving.