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First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

Posted by Rachel Evans on
First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

The House of Representatives recently voted to cut the Pell Grant budget by $5.7 billion, approving a bill that makes over $61 billion in budget cuts to various areas. The Senate will vote on the issue soon. Each student’s Pell Grant amount will be reduced by an average of $754 per grant if the bill is passed. This will have a huge impact on many students and universities.

As a student, this bill scares me. I recently left active-duty military service and joined the Reserves. I have an Associate’s Degree from a local community college, and two more from the Community College of the Air Force. However, I want to finish my Bachelor’s Degree, even though my civilian career is going well. I began college classes at American Military University in the fall of 2009, and am about nine classes from degree completion. In addition, my husband retired from active-duty military service in December 2010 and began working toward his Bachelor’s Degree at AMU. He has an Associate’s Degree in the Ford ASSET program and is pursuing his degree in Human Resource Management.

I currently receive the Montgomery GI Bill, which helps pay my tuition. With being in school full-time and taking four classes per semester, three semesters per year, I rely on Pell Grants to help pay the rest of my tuition and fees and keep me afloat from semester to semester. My husband also receives tuition assistance and GI Bill benefits, but needs his Pell Grant to enable him to work a lower-paying, less-stressful federal government job while he attends school.

If our Pell Grants are cut, we will have to work more, take more student loans out, and sacrifice more to finish our degrees. The stress level is at an all-time high with two adults working full-time and attending school full-time, and two grade-school aged children in the house. If we lose even a portion of our Pell Grants, one or both of us will have to drop out of classes.

The economy in our country is in dire straits, and there is no easy solution. I am open to hear any suggestions that our lawmakers throw out, but cutting education spending is not the answer. If education funding is cut, fewer individuals will pursue higher education, and, as a result, will not be able to get better jobs. This leads to less taxes paid out, and more people needing government assistance. There has to be a better answer.