Pell Grants could be on chopping block for US Congress

Under the plan, Pell Grants would be cut by $1,330 per award.

Domestic spending cuts will be cut by approximately 22 percent this year under a new plan led by Congress Republicans. Pell Grants may be on the chopping block as part of the new plan to reduce the national deficit.

As they outlined in their “Pledge to America” campaign last year, the GOP is planning to cut Pell Grants by at least $1,330 per award. These grants can provide financial assistance for middle and low-income students to pay for college.

Higher education costs are a significant portion of many state budgets, and Nixon, a Democrat, suggested a plan Monday regarding state institutions.

The proposed 7 percent budget cut to four-year higher education institutions will result in about $53 million less for Missouri’s colleges.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is concerned about the effect the proposed national budget cuts will have on future college students.

“Senator McCaskill supports programs, like Pell Grants, that aim to make higher education less financially burdensome for hardworking American families,” spokeswoman Laura Myron said in an e-mail. “She will be looking closely at any proposed changes to these kinds of programs to make sure we continue to help people who may not have otherwise been able to afford college.”

Although there is apprehension about the national budget plan for higher education institutions, MU College Republicans said they understand the GOP’s reasoning for their proposals.

“Many House Republicans are pushing for large decreases in overall spending and tying this back to taking responsibility for reckless government spending in the past,” MU College Republicans Vice Chair Malorie Howe said in an e-mail.

Due to the state budget cut of nearly $29.8 million and the UM System’s budget gap of $72 million, the UM System advises increases in tuition and fees at MU as much as 5.8 percent.

John Payne, Research Assistant for the Show-Me Institute, said increasing the tuition is understandable depending on the category of financial aid being cut.

“If they are cutting direct spending grants, it makes sense that they raise the tuition,” Payne said. “But, if the money being cut is going directly to students, then being used for tuition, and the tuition is increasing, more people would not want to attend the school.”

The fiscal year started on Oct. 1 and will almost end before Republican proposals can be enacted into law.

“Tough decisions are going to have to be made as to which programs should be cut or receive reduced funding,” Howe said.

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