PIRG & 575 Higher Education Advocates Urge Congress To Protect Student Aid


WASHINGTON, DC — Yesterday, 576 higher education advocates representing students, institutions,educators, and consumers sent a letter to Congress urging them to protect critical federal student aid programs. 

“Federal student aid programs like the Pell grant make college affordable for millions of Americans,” said Katie Steen, Higher Education Fellow at U.S. PIRG.

The letter is the product of a large-scale coordinated effort by the higher education community to present a united front after proposals from Congress and the White House to cut funding from a number of programs, including the Pell grant.   

 “Recent troubling proposals to significantly cut or eliminate funding for Pell grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Federal Work Study (FWS), TRIO, GEAR UP and other programs threaten the stability of our nation’s higher education and workforce systems,” the groups wrote. “Federal student aid serves a critical role in preserving access to higher education, and enabling student success at a time when postsecondary education has never been more necessary to support the American economy,” signatories of the letter wrote to Congress.

Proposals from both the White House and Congress threaten to cut funding from the Pell grant reserve. An FY17 proposal from the Senate would cut from the reserve to reinstate year-round Pell which was eliminated in 2012.

Seven and a half million Americans depend on the Pell grant to go to college and we need a long-term plan to protect and invest in the program. With rising student debt, students and the economy cannot afford a short-sighted deal that could leave the program in a shortfall down the road or make it more vulnerable to future cuts,” said Steen.