It is oftentimes said that death is the most certain thing in life, but as many college students know, paying an arm and a leg to attend college is a close second.
Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for U.S. vice president, knows this well. Ryan attended college during the 1990s and used student loans to pay for his education. He said in an interview he had to work three jobs to pay back the loans. It is therefore all the more surprising that his budget for the federal government, proposed in 2011, cuts down on Pell Grants. The grants are part of a popular federal financial assistance program for college students with funding that does not need to be repaid like a loan.
Pell Grants will play a pivotal role in the continuation of college education for many Bobcats this fall. Ryan’s proposal to reduce Pell Grants will simply come across as bad news for lots of students.
The Ryan Budget, as it is popularly known, would likely eliminate substantial funds from the Pell Grants program. According to a March 27 Huffington Post article, an Education Trust analysis found that up to one million students could lose Pell Grant funding in the next 10 years. The proposed budget would cut Pell Grants by $170 billion and eliminate the program’s eligibility for part-time students, who usually have to work to pay their way through college.
Pell Grants are designed to help lower- and middle-class students achieve a secondary education. Ryan’s misguided efforts could mean some students acquire even more burdensome debts. Eventually, other people might be discouraged from going to college for fear of significant financial setbacks.
Texas State would not be immune to the effects of potential Pell Grant cuts. According to a March 31, 2010 University Star article, Texas State students received approximately $22 million in Pell Grant funding during the 2008 to 2009 academic year. The grants helped more than 7,000 students continue their education at the university. On average, those individual students received $3,136 annually, which is a hefty sum that would be difficult to accumulate otherwise. The passage of the Ryan Budget could mean fewer Texas State students will be able to afford their higher education degree plans. Some students with the motivation and proper skills for a particular job field might be unable to acquire a quality education because of a lack of finances.
Overall, making college more affordable for students is the most important reform needed in higher education today. It should not be the other way around — students do not need to see their Pell Grant funds reduced.
For one, there is little sense in placing cuts on this pivotal program when tuition prices are on the rise across the nation. Also, the Ryan Budget introduces sharp spending cuts for Pell Grants with the purpose of lowering federal debt. The growing debt is a problem, but it should not be paid off at the expense of students at Texas State and other institutions. College students represent the future of the country, and the nation will likely become uncompetitive in the global economy if those students are not able to afford higher education costs.
If Pell Grant funds are reduced, many hardworking students will feel the hurt financially. The Ryan Budget has the capacity to eliminate these funds through discretionary spending, thereby impacting a portion of Texas State students directly. Bobcats should stand against ideas that may slowly close the doors of higher education for some students entirely.