At Hillsborough Community College today, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor criticized the cuts to Pell Grants, work-study and other education investments under the Republican budget passed by the U.S. House. Castor, HCC President Ken Atwater and an HCC student explained the devastating impact of harsh Republican cuts to students, schools and colleges.
"Reductions in student aid, work study, and our public schools will do damage to the economic recovery and efforts to rebuild the middle class," Castor said. "The harsh cuts are piled on top of cuts at the state level by Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP-controlled legislature. Tampa Bay is an "education community". When the GOP targets students and schools, they hurt our entire community.
Castor fought to increase the amount of the Pell Grant in recent years, and the Republican budget would unravel that progress. Pell Grants, Castor said, are a "lifeline" for our students.
"In targeting students, the GOP House will hurt the ability of thousands of students across the country to attend college, graduate and obtain a good job," Castor said.
Estimates show that the Republican budget would have a severe impact on Florida students, with thousands of work-study opportunities eliminated and hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts to elementary and secondary education.
Angel Anchundia, an HCC student who wants to become a doctor, said he relies on the Pell Grant and his work-study job in the financial aid office.
"Without the Pell Grant, I would not be in school right now," Angel said. "This Pell Grant has helped me tremendously. Without this Pell Grant, we wouldn't be achieving our goals."
Dr. Ken Atwater said approximately 18,000 HCC students are receiving some sort of financial assistance and cuts would preclude many students from being able to attend community college.
"Aid is a gateway for a majority of our students," Atwater said. "Any reduction in aid closes the door for them, and we don't want to close the door for them."