My quick answer to the question is “Yes, we should!” Simply put, any time money is taken away from college students, more students will find it harder to afford college. Many families prioritize saving for retirement first and paying for education second, based on the assumption that they can usually find money and assistance to help pay for college, but that it is more difficult to find money to fund life after retirement.
Let’s look more closely into these proposed Pell-Grant cuts so we can better understand them. According to CNNMoney.com’s article “Obama’s budget to target education Pell grants,” the cuts will come in two ways:
- Students will no longer be eligible for two Pell grants per year. In the past, students could apply for one grant for the regular semester and then another grant for summer school. Now students are limited to one or the other.
- The second cut affects graduate and professional students and comes in the form of how the government will pay the interest on loans to those enrolled in these programs.
According to “The Rising Price of Inequality: How Inadequate Grant Aid Limits College Access and Persistence,” a report published by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there is a growing gap between those who aspire and are qualified to go to college and their ability to meet the financial requirements for enrollment. So is this program of proposed Pell-Grant cuts short sited? If we take our brightest minds and place them in schools where they will not be academically challenged (or deny them higher education entirely), will we produce the top-quality college graduates we need to lead us into the future? Are we mortgaging our future for short-term savings?