Tag Archive: student

Cash-Strapped College Part 2: Once you’re there


This is the second of a three-part series. Find the first post here.

Congratulations, you’ve been accepted to college and secured enough scholarships, loans and savings to enroll. Now you get to explore the large and exciting (and parent—free) world that is college life. Chances are this will be your first time living away from your parents and it’s probable that you’ve never managed your own expenses before. With all the freedom that college offers, it can be easy to forget that you don’t always have the finances to explore all of that freedom. 


By this point hopefully you’ve sat down with your parents, or at least had a serious discussion with yourself, and created a monthly budget. It’s important to not only plan for your known expenses but to have enough wiggle room to accommodate unforeseen expenses like car repairs, replacing stolen property or even late night pizza for your “study group.” With that in mind, it is important to cut corners where you can because every penny you save is a penny you don’t have to borrow and pay back later at 12% interest.


Here is your guide to pinching your pennies at college.


A decrease in Pell Grant spending: Should we be concerned?


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
In all, the purpose of the proposed cuts is to save around 100 billion dollars over a 10-year period, but to what effect? How will these cuts affect enrollment and graduation and drop-out rates? It is clear that with new Pell-Grant limitations, college students will have to spend more of their own money or find alternative funding in order to get degrees. According to FastWeb.com’s article “Congress Proposes Big Cuts in Pell Grants,” the proposal will cause more than a million students to lose eligibility for the Pell Grant as it exists now. The article states that every $100 change in the maximum Pell Grant corresponds to about 200,000 recipients, and the proposed change will impact 1.7 million low-income students.
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?