Higher education should be an option for everyone

Financial aid for college students has taken another hit, leaving some to ponder whether they can afford to continue a path in higher education.

The recently passed debt-ceiling bill increased the amount of money reserved for Pell Grants, which provide federal money for low-income undergraduate students. According to “the White House”:http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/debt-deal-cuts-graduate-loans-boost-pell-grants/story?id=14209273, the maximum Pell award has been increased to $5,550, which is expected to help over 9 million students. The trade-off is graduate students taking out federal Stafford loans will see their interest rates accumulate, instead of staying fixed until after graduation.

Students pursuing graduate, medical or law school are expected to come up with an exorbitant amount of money to participate in these programs, usually by taking out student loans. Eliminating this subsidy for graduate students can be discouraging for those who would already be just scraping by to afford staying in school.

While we are not supporting a cut to the Pell Grant program, many opportunities already exist for undergraduate students to find financial aid elsewhere.

In today’s job market, an undergraduate degree is becoming more common as an employment requirement instead of a recommendation. Working toward a higher degree should be encouraged instead of being made more difficult to achieve due to a lack of funds.

Also concerning is that the Pell Grant program was in trouble in the first place. While it may be sustained for a few more years at the very most, more cuts to education may be on the way.

Getting rid of programs similar to Pell Grants would reduce ways for low-income students to be able to afford attending a college or university. If fewer interested students can find financial aid, enrollment numbers at universities could be affected, and perhaps the diversity of those on campus as well.

Higher education should be accessible to anyone interested, no matter the background of the applicant. By cutting options for financial aid, some students are losing out on the likelihood of earning a degree. For students who are finding college less and less affordable, they need this assistance to be able to get by.