Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How The Ryan Budget Will Hurt Higher Education

This from Campus Progress:

Former Republican vice-presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin unveiled a budget blueprint [yesterday] for fiscal year 2014 titled "The Path to Prosperity."

As the chair of the House Budget Committee, Ryan is best known as the architect of a House budget plan to slash discretionary spending, including federal research funding, student loans and the Pell Grant program, over the next decade.

The Ryan Budget would have a severe impact on students across the country. In his report, he writes that Pell Grants, the federal  program for undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need, is "on an unsustainable path" after numerous award increases and easing of eligibility requirements during the recession.

Under the House Republican Budget, Pell Grants would be capped at the current level of $5,645 for 10 years, and eliminate all mandatory funding. In other words, under Ryan’s plan, Pell Grants would not keep up with the pace of inflation and rising tuition costs, and would be worth less each successive year. Ryan's Budget also proposed to fund the minimized Pell Grant program with discretionary funds, which would be impossible given the caps without deep cuts to other programs or eligibility changes. So to meet this, the Ryan Budget proposed just that: to change the method of calculating how much a student's family can pay for higher education, making these loans harder to get and less generous.

As Lauren Asher, the president of TICAS, explained how these changes to pell would make college less accessible for the neediest of students in a recent statement. "The maximum Pell Grant already covers less than one-third of the cost of attending a public four-year college this fall—the lowest share since the start of the program. Freezing it for 10 years would lower its value even further, to 17 percent of college costs by 2023."

In the long run, it's predicted this budget plan will save the federal government $1.1 billion, but in return it will make higher education more unattainable for low-income students. During the 2011-2012 school year, there were 19 million valid applicants for Pell but only less than half were supported by the program, according to the Department of Education. Without access to these federal grants, low-income students that continue to pursue a higher education will likely become even more reliant on student loans, a debt crisis affecting our entire economy. And the House Republican Budget barely mentions the $1 trillion issue, and stays eerily silent on the student loan interest rates that are set to double, from 3.4 percent to 6.8, in the summer...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One might consider this - just because someone is eligible for the loan doesn't necessarily mean they are academically capable. I would be curious about the academic success rate of folks who get these Pell Grants, we are not talking about just recent high school graduates from poverty. It wasn't that long ago that incarcertated criminals were getting these to pay for college courses being provided by universities and colleges in the prisons. I suspect like most entitlements which the government provides, there is a pretty fair amount of misuse and inferior oversight.

Maybe if our states weren't cutting post grad funding, we wouldn't have to look to the feds to pay universities to educate students.

You can tax the 1% as much as you want but it still isn't going to cover these program shortfalls. At somepoint we can't continue to expect the government to pay for folks food, housing, education, 30 years of retirment, health care etc - citizens are going to have to take control and prioritize what we can actually pay for and what we can't. If feeding kids is important, them maybe a 21 century jet fighter for a non existant enemy or a space station aren't things we can afford right now.