Paul Ryan’s Pell Grant cuts are unjust, misguided

Paul Ryan and those Republican budget cutters are at it again. This time they’re going right for the jugular vein of the higher education financial aid system: Pell Grants. Paul Ryans budget would cut $170 billion from the already underfunded and high-demand program.

Pell Grants are a vital aid source for low-income college students, helping them pay college tuition. The Education Trust and others in higher education estimate that over 1 million students would lose out on a Pell Grant over 10 years if this becomes a reality. In a time where tuition and books costs are strangling many low-income and working class students, why are we cutting when we should be funding this vital program? Oh I forgot, education is a privilege according to the 1%.

Wrong. Education is a human right. It is the basis on which knowledge, and with that empowerment, is founded. Everyone should have that chance to have some of that knowledge and empowerment, regardless of income.

I see it every day at my school. Even at a public community college like mine where tuition is deeply discounted for all county residents, students are still struggling to pay the bill. Even after all the state and federal grants, and the high-interest private loans, they’re still weighed down with test, activity, and textbook fees on top of tuition.

And now Republicans want to cut Pell Grants? Throw away the chance for 1 million students to better themselves? I don’t think so. Pell Grants are a critical program which must be funded at all costs.

I have long called in previous education articles for higher education reforms. These reforms in the interim would include a temporary massive increase in funding for Pell Grants to cover more students. Other goals would include passage of the Student Loan Forgiveness Act, and the eventual abolition of student loans themselves which are unjust, and crippling.

Both Pell Grants and loans would be replaced by permanent guaranteed federal scholarships available to all students who opt for attendance at a public college, university, or vocational/technical school. These scholarships would be funded through a strong central progressive taxation scheme with the burden being on the top incomes.

Education should never be a tool of the privileged few. If we cut Pell Grants and fail to reform higher education we are looking at education becoming a private sector business with no public support. Millions of students ,many of them low-income, minority, and working class, would be left without a means of empowerment. That to me is unjust and misguided. Education is the right and lifeblood of the 99%.

Photo: Even with a computer and a calculator most college students are struggling to find ways to pay for their education. Jay LaPrete/AP



Michael Leonard
Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard spends his time writing for a variety of progressive causes. In his spare time he writes fiction.