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Mar 20 2017
by Diana Pope

What's Really Happening with the Pell Grant Program

By Diana Pope - Mar 20 2017

This past week, the Trump administration announced several drastic budgets in different sectors of the economy with the new agenda for military and infrastructure in the country. The President plans to reverse the current direction of the education system, and seeks to cut $9.2 billion dollars from the Department of Education's budget. The administration's top priorities are expanding charter schools and increasing funding for private school vouchers. 

One program that will take a direct hit from the budget cuts is the Pell Grant Program. This program is crucial to low-income students across the United States because it provides need-based grants. Pell Grants are used at over 5,400 participating institutions so that students can earn their tuition with less debt. 

The President is proposing that this program will receive level funding- the program will no longer receive the fiscal amount of $3.9 billion dollars due to a threat of "unobligated carryover funding."  The President will not decrease actual funding for the program, but his administration will no longer hand over the amount of $3.9 billion dollars. 

Even though the White House is not technically scrapping funding for the program, it may sacrifice important year-round grants that many college students rely on for their education. The President's proposal will gradually eliminate any surplus money in the program's possession. 

Primarily, the administration's new budget cuts in education will affect low-income students. The President will cut nearly $200 million dollars in programs that assist financially disadvantaged students. TRIO, a conglomerate of eight outreach programs, will witness a massive reduction in funding. These programs are highly important for supporting low income, first generation and disabled students as they progress through primary and secondary schooling. 

The President's budget proposal also calls for budget reductions in Federal Work-Study, which helps students siphon off the cost of tuition by working through college. Trump also plans to completely eliminate the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which provides federal grants to low income students. 

Overall, the President's new budget for the education sector will radically change the past agenda under the Obama Administration. While the administration is expanding a host of charter schools and vouchers, the future of various federal aid programs for low income students remains bleak. The Pell Grant Program will not have access to any surplus funding, and other education programs and grants may be completely eliminated due to the administration's budget plans. 

Lead Image Credit: Geoff Livingston via Flickr Creative Commons

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Diana Pope - University of Tennessee Knoxville

Diana is a political science major who also enjoys journalism, history, and philosophy. She loves writing, researching, and debating about politics. In her free time, she enjoys Grey's anatomy marathons and reading detective fiction.

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