Act Now: House Proposal Hacks Away at Pell Eligibility

Back in early August, we told you that the fight would resume in the fall. Well, that time has come.

The House Appropriations Committee recently released a proposal for next year’s education budget, and the news is bad for Pell Grant recipients.  While the Senate Appropriations proposal protects both the maximum Pell award and program eligibility requirements,  the House bill hacks away at students’ future in the name of short-sighted spending cuts.

Who does this proposal hurt most?

•    More than half a million students. Under the House bill, the U.S. Department of Education  estimates that more than half a million hard-working students would be kicked out of the Pell Grant Program entirely.

•    Non-traditional students. The House bill limits Pell Grant eligibility to 12 semesters, down from 18. That means that students who are supporting families or holding down full-time jobs while diligently working to earn a college degree would be cut off after six years — period.

•    Students working their way through college. By dramatically lowering the amount students can earn to cover basic living expenses without jeopardizing their grant eligibility, the bill effectively forces students to choose between work and financial aid.

•    Students with children and those on public assistance. Unlike before, the House bill would count a variety of untaxed income sources against a student’s Pell Grant. So if you need government help to feed your children or to keep a shirt on your back, that could diminish your Pell Grant.

It’s time to suit up for battle once again.  The House has planted its flag in a draconian jumping-off point as they begin negotiations with the Senate. They need to hear that these proposals are absolutely unacceptable. Write to your member of Congress today.