A proposed national legislation currently stands to dramatically reduce student access to the Pell grant â€“â€“ a financial award helping 5,196 students at CSU afford tuition, according to the universityâ€™s Student Financial Services office.
Republicans in the House of Representatives are pushing the proposed reductions in the form of H.R. 3070, which would also cut energy assistance to low-income families, remove funding for the national service program known as AmeriCorps and stop financing Planned Parenthood clinics unless they promise to not perform abortions.
According to the United States Student Association (USSA), if the legislation passes, the following Pell grant changes will take effect on July 12, 2012:
- Eliminating eligibility for less-than-half-time students (23 of CSUâ€™s 5,196 Pell grant recipients fit this category)
- Restricting eligibility to receive a minimum Pell grant
- Lowering the period of time for total Pell eligibility from 18 semesters to 12 semesters
Changing the income protection allowances
- Lowering the family income that results in an automatic Zero Expected Family Contribution.
* Changing the definitionof untaxed income
- Eliminating students who are not high school graduates from receiving a Pell grant
The USSA estimates the proposed cuts to the Pell grant program will amount to $40 billion over the next four years.
House Republicans see their cuts as cost-saving measures that, while unfortunate, are necessary.
â€œIt is always a challenge to balance the competing needs for funding with the realities of limited resources,â€ said Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call. â€œThereâ€™s an unlimited desire to help, but thereâ€™s not an unlimited budget.â€
To others like Getachew Kassa, director of legislation at USSA, students have already sacrificed plenty to help stabilize the national economy.
â€œWeâ€™ve already seen $30 billion in cuts to our federal student aid program. This is just adding to that,â€ he said. â€œStudents have already been victims of federal deficit reduction measures. Weâ€™ve paid our share already. Enough is enough.â€
From 2005 to 2011, CSU undergraduate tuition has increased from $3,381.30 to $6,307.20. The maximum Pell grant only covers $5,500.
Officials on campus are opposed to the proposed changes to the Pell grant program on the grounds that it limits studentsâ€™ ability to afford higher education.
â€œCSU is a land-grant institution,â€ said Christie Leighton, associate director of financial services at the university. â€œWeâ€™re all about access to college for students and Pell grant is so helpful to low income students to help get them to college.â€
Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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