Grant students a chance at affordable education

Currently, Pell Grants afford 6,888 students the opportunity to attend the University. These students will go on to be educators and innovators, CEOs and activists.

However, without help from the Pell Grant program, these students may never have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Recently, legislators, such as Rep. Tom Price, R-GA, proposed a bill to reduce the amount of money students receive from Pell Grants annually.

The Pell Grant program began in 1972 and provides tuition funds to students who come from homes with an average income of $30,000 per year or less. The $33.7 billion Pell Grant budget benefitted 9 million students in the United States in the 2013-2014 academic year alone.

The program is currently running a surplus, but its funds are expected to run dry by 2017 if a change isn’t made soon.

To make the program more sustainable, legislators proposed limiting the funding each student can receive to $5,775 per school year, which would only cover at the most 19 percent of the total college tuition and fees for an in-state University student in its most costly program. This would not even afford an in-state student one semester of classes.

When the costs of books and room and board are factored in, a student relying on Pell Grants will still need almost $25,000 for the year, which is nearly impossible since their household income hovers around that amount.

While other scholarships are available, they are not a guarantee.

As the cost of college tuition continues to rise, students are searching for any alternative possible to afford an education, such as crowdfunding or working full-time jobs while being full-time students.

Because of these high demands and the many financial worries facing students wishing to pursue higher education, we believe legislators should look for an alternative way to help students who qualify for Pell Grants afford college if the current program isn’t feasible.

It would be irresponsible for the government to allow the Pell Grant program to deplete its funding in just two years, and if students can’t afford to attend college with the lessened grants, another solution needs to be found.