It is painfully obvious that the College of William and Mary has not been spared in this time of economic hardship. Every semester, tuition increases in order to offset the continually decreased federal and state funding. More than ever before, it seems that students at the College must become more self-reliant in funding their educations. Unfortunately, this isn’t just a problem for students at the College: across the nation, students are receiving less and less financial aid, bearing the burden of tuition by themselves. With the proposed cuts to Pell Grants, this burden will be even greater in the future.
At the College, 782 students currently benefit from the additional funding provided by Pell Grants. As a government grant that does not have to be paid back, Pell Grants make for a welcome monetary addition to any financial aid package. These programs allow the government to provide opportunities to As it stands now, some aspect of the Pell Grant program will be cut in one way or another, and there are two main proposals in motion to do so.
The first option, a plan passed by the House of Representatives reduces available funding for Pell Grants to $16.3 billion and reduces the monetary value of the largest amount of aid awarded. The second plan is part of President Barack Obama’s budget, which limits when Pell Grants can be used, restricting students from using the grants to pay for summer sessions. Under Obama’s plan, the government will award $41.2 billion in Pell Grants next year.
The effect of cuts in Pell Grant money will only create further hardship for those who are already in need. While we would urge legislatures to shy away from any cuts that would adversely affect the availability of education, our nation’s steadily growing $14 trillion national debt requires reductions to be made everywhere. With this in mind, we are forced to choose the lesser of two evils. The House’s plan will cut $24.9 billion more than Obama’s plan, and we simply cannot support a plan that would reduce funding by $2,000 per student for 782 or more students. For us, it is simply a matter of numbers. Obama’s plan would only affect about 100 students at the College who receive summer aid — and as a result, we support his plan.
While it may seem unfair or biased that we, as college students, support the measure that affects us less, we believe education is worth the sacrifice. All budget cuts affect someone, and while we do not wish the negative effects of budget cuts on anyone, we urge the politicians to find other portions of our nation’s budge to trim. Education is not just an expenditure, it is an investment. Like most investments, Obama’s plan for Pell Grants may not be the most financially responsible plan in the short run, but we hope the additional funds will have a lasting and positive impact by providing quality education for tomorrow’s leaders.