Rep. Paul Ryan’s new House budget includes a provision for scaling back Pell Grants. Though the budget won’t get past the Democratic Senate, this proposal could be a foreshadowing of what federal student aid cuts would look like if the GOP takes the Senate in 2014 and the Presidency in 2016.
Under the proposal, the maximum Pell Grant award would be frozen at the current $5,730 amount for the next 10 years. The budget would also leave all of the Pell Grant program’s funding up to the discretion of Congress each year, eliminating the mandatory funding stream that currently funds part of the program.In addition, the budget would impose an unspecified income cap on students who receive a Pell Grant and eliminate the grant for students attending college less than half time.
Pell Grants disproportionately benefit low-income students, so these cuts may not be politically viable even after a GOP takeover. But we’re happy to see proposals like this, if only because they stoke public discussion about finding ways to cut or limit the growth of student aid as a whole, which has for decades been a big facilitator of college tuition increases. It’s good to see at least one side stepping up, even if this proposal isn’t necessarily the best of all possible measures.Now let’s see what ideas the other side comes up with.