Last week congressional leaders agreed to a $1 trillion compromise that avoided another threatened government shutdown. But what this latest negotiation actually compromises is the future of many hard-working students who are struggling to complete their educations and put their best foot forward in one of the worst economic climates this country has experienced.
The Pell Grant program in particular took a significant hit in this latest round of negotiations. The House Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations package includes a six-year time limit on grants that will effectively prevent thousands of students from ever receiving another Pell Grant, even if they are currently only one or two semesters away from graduating.
Despite the fact that we know that recipients of the Pell Grants are disproportionately concentrated at institutions that prioritize the education of low-income students of color and that a college education has time and time again been shown to improve an individual’s chance in the job market, the program was ruthlessly targeted for cost-saving measures. Given that unemployment is at a record high, particularly for youth of color, with African American youth at 30 percent and Latino youth at 20 percent, this is precisely the time we should be investing in the Pell Grant program instead of cutting students off at their knees.
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