Feb 192002

Yes, America is still a target for terrorist groups around the world. Yes, resources need to be used to prevent these groups from attacking American soil and killing civilians – but at what cost?

According to President Bush’s proposed budget for the 2003 fiscal year, it looks like CSU students and other purchasers of higher education around the country will pay the price for greater national security.

The budget proposal, released Feb. 4, asks for an increase of $48 billion for defense, but the maximum on the federal Pell Grant will remain at $4,000.

The proposal also recommends eliminating the federal Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership program, which currently matches each dollar that individual states commit to need-based financial aid. In addition, essential student-aid programs such as College Work Study, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and Perkins Loans will be capped during this time, while the cost of higher education will certainly continue to rise.

This is a problem.

Despite the emphasis the Bush administration has put on protecting Americans, capping financial aid injures many young Americans’ hopes of affording an education. And during this time of great national unity, we as students need to be aware of this.

It is easy right now for the Bush administration to ask for almost $500 billion to ensure wary citizens that another Sept. 11 won’t happen. But we need to realize that education is the most powerful weapon available to any man, woman or nation. An inflated army or nuclear weapon defense shield would not have prevented Sept. 11, but better intelligence might have.

To be fair, Bush’s proposal does include forgiving up to $17,500 in loans for students who decide to teach math, science or special education in disadvantaged schools – a $12,500 increase from 2002. But retraction of funds from the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education is also proposed.

If Congress passes Bush’s budget, the national deficit will multiply while taxes will remain the same, and CSU students might start to find the cost of a diploma increasingly intimidating, or even out of reach.

Putting education on the back burner in the name of security does not secure America – it only exposes her wounds.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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