Congressman Faleomavaega today announced that the proposed Republican budget for FY 2012 introduces significant cuts to the Pell Grant program, a need-based grant program for college students from low-income families. Passed by the House on Friday, April 15, H.Con.Res.34 would impose changes to the Pell Grant that would make college far less affordable for America’s students.
Compared to the $23 billion in Pell Grant funding for FY 2011, the Republican budget proposal would decrease overall funding to pre-stimulus levels of around $16 billion. Based on pre-stimulus levels, the Republican budget could also decrease the maximum Pell Grant award of $5,550 down to $3,040, the lowest it has been since 1998. Furthermore, new data from the U.S. Department of Education show that, if passed, the budget would result in almost 1.4 million students losing eligibility for Pell Grants nationwide in the 2012-2013 school year and all students receiving significantly reduced awards.
“There are currently over 15,966 students in American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Marianas Islands and this budget proposal would result in 2,498 of these students losing eligibility starting in the 2012-2013 school year. Furthermore, the students in these territories who continue to receive the grant would receive on average $1,935 less than their current average award of $4,059,” Faleomavaega noted.
“The Pell Grant is a vital source of financial aid for college students across the nation. In the past 5 years, over 15,000 Pell Grants have been awarded to students at American Samoa Community College, according to the ASCC Financial Aid Office. For the 2010-2011 school year alone, the Pell Grant program has contributed $6,000,000 in funding to ASCC students. Currently, 1,355 ASCC students, or 73% of the student body receive Pell Grant awards,” Congressman Faleomavaega stated.
“As the process of negotiating the budget for FY 2012 continues between the House and Senate, I am hopeful that the Pell Grant program will be restored to its current funding levels. As I have stated in the past, while I do support selectively cutting spending, I also believe that it should be our nation’s priority to invest in areas like education that hold the potential for long-term benefits in economic growth,” Faleomavaega concluded.