Over the final weeks of the campaign, voters will hear from each candidate on their plans to fund Pell Grants for students who plan to pursue a college education. President Obama has doubled funding for Pell Grants, helping nearly 4 million more students to better access and afford college. Moving forward, he will continue to support the program so that students will see their maximum grant increase to keep up with inflation in the coming year. President Obama knows that if education is the gateway to the middle class, then Pell Grants are the key for millions of Americans.
At the first debate, Romney said, “I don’t have any plan to cut education funding and grants that got to people going to college.” Once again, Romney’s proposals just don’t add up. The Romney-Ryan budget, authored by his running mate, would slash discretionary funding by 20% across the board, and as a result could slash Pell Grants by about $1,000 per student. Ryan also proposes to eliminate non-discretionary funding for the program entirely, making the program more vulnerable to year-to-year budgetary changes. And without addressing how we would replace this funding, Ryan nearly triples the current budget shortfall for the program over the next 10 years.
On top of this, Romney promises to roll back the President’s student loan reforms that ended more than $60 billion in bank subsidies in order to invest in Pell Grants, community colleges, and deficit reduction. He would let the president’s college tax credit expire, worth up to $10,000 over four years of college. When asked what students should do to afford college, Romney’s offered his best advice: “Shop around.”
President Obama knows that when it comes to educating our way to prosperity, we are all in it together. In fact, according to the College Board, community colleges and private universities are more affordable today than they were five years ago thanks in large part to the president’s investments in college scholarships.
Pell Grants have helped millions of Americans achieve their fullest potential by not only opening the doors to college, but providing the resources necessary to complete their studies and succeed in today’s economy. As Election Day nears, Romney may sing a different tune on Pell Grants and other programs important to middle-class voters, but the notes are the same. If cuts are made across the board, Romney could slash Pell Grants for students and other key investments in innovation, clean energy, and education. His plan is a choice we just can’t afford.