House Budget Eviscerates Education Funding

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On a partisan 228-191 vote, the full House passed a budget for the 2013 fiscal year that could make already tough times even tougher for college students. Introduced last week by Chairman Paul Ryan (R- Wis.), this bill cuts spending to $20 billion below the level Congress agreed to last year. Education funding is cut $166 billion below current levels over 10 years by further shrinking the Pell Grant program and allowing the interest rates on student loans to increase.

The House budget maintains the faulty premise that the federal government is primarily responsible for the soaring costs to attend college. This bizarre logic has allowed some to make the argument that denying low-income and working-class students modest aid from the Pell program will help rein in college costs.

The supporters of the House budget may claim they are putting the Pell Grant program on a “sustainable path by limiting the growth of financial aid and focusing it on low-income students who need it the most,” but the truth is that work was done last year with the 2011 budget agreement and 2012 omnibus. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects almost no average annual growth in Pell Grant costs over the next 10 years.

The House-approved budget limits access to higher education for low-income and working-class students — opening wider the divide between haves and have-nots. And that’s clearly not a sustainable path for our economy or our democracy.

— Lynn Jennings