Congress Cuts $303 Million From Federal Financial Aid Program

Congress has announced that it will cut $303 million in Pell Grant funding in order to free up their budget to pay companies that collect student loans on behalf of the Department of Education.

Created in 1972, the federal program awards money to students whose household income is typically $30,000 or less, with nearly two-thirds of African American students benefiting from the program and 51 percent of Latino undergrads. For the 2013-2014 school year, nine million students received funding from the $33.7 billion Pell Grant program.

The budget cuts, which are backed by Senate Democrats, face opposition from student advocates who believe that the spending cuts can create a funding shortfall beginning as soon as next fall.

However, Democrats say that the Pell program is currently running a $4.4 billion surplus as a result of money that went unused from previous years, which can result in a deficit by 2017 if Congress maintains its current amount of spending money for Pell Grants.

Dozens of student advocate groups, including Young Invincibles and the Institute for College Access and Success, have been waging a campaign to protect Pell funding by writing letters to members of the Congressional sub-committee and encouraging students to call their local representatives and urge them to end the proposed cuts.

SOURCE: The Washington Post