Protect Opportunity. Save Pell.
Young adults across the country are enrolling in college in record numbers. They dream of a degree that will help them find a job, earn a living, and do something meaningful in the future.
Those dreams could be crushed if Congress opts to make cuts to the Pell grant program, a federal student aid grant that helps between 9 and 10 million students finance their college degrees. In recent weeks, members of Congress have put Pell on the chopping block as they look for way to trim the federal budget.
Pell reaches the lowest-income students and has been particularly effective in helping minority students from under-resourced schools enroll (and finish) college or career-prep programs. Without Pell grants, almost half of African American students and about 40 percent of Hispanic students might not be able to pursue a degree that will put them - and with them, the nation - on the path to economic stability and success.
The adage "a hand up, not a hand out" certainly holds true for Pell. A Pell grant doesn't pay the entire cost of a college degree. With an annual cap of $5,550 per student, even a maximum Pell award only covers one-third of the cost of attending a public four-year college, so about nine out of ten Pell recipients will have student loans to repay when they graduate.
Yet even this small amount of funding can make all the difference for young adults who are already struggling to afford the rapidly rising cost of college. And after a few weeks of budget negotiations, this funding could be gone.
What You Can Do
It's time to take action to protect Pell grants from senseless cuts that will hurt the most vulnerable students. Washington may be in the mood to make cuts, but cutting aid to educate our workforce is not the way to advance our economy. In fact, it's exactly the opposite. Policymakers must understand how vital Pell grants are for our generation. It's time to speak up.
- Start by writing to the White House and your Senators and Representatives to remind them of the importance Pell.
- Tell your local newspaper about it in a “letter to the editor.” (For more tips on writing letters to the editor, check out SparkAction's Communications page.)
- Day of Action - July 25. On July 25, join Young Invincibles, Student PIRG, EdTrust, TICAS and many others for Save Pell Day, when we'll be writing, tweeting, Facebooking, and blogging about the benefits of Pell. And, if you have benefitted from Pell yourself, you can share your story and help us to inspire action across the web and around Capitol Hill.
- Learn more about the Protect Opportunity. Save Pell. campaign.
Megan Cheney is the communications and policy intern at Young Invincibles.