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Koh, Feingold Urge President to Reverse Decision on Cutting Pell Grants

Location: Washington, DC


Estimated 1.4 Million Students Will Receive a Reduction or Total Loss of Their Pell Grants Under President's Plan

U.S. Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold today joined a number of their Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the President urging him to reverse his administration's decision restructuring the Pell Grant program and leaving an estimated 1.4 million students with a reduction or total loss of their Pell Grants. In late December, the administration announced that it would be making changes to the financial aid formula for higher education.

"While we again face budget challenges, we cannot cut corners when it comes to educating our children. The Pell Grant program has helped to ensure that every student in America can pursue a higher education regardless of his or her financial or social background. This financial aid program is an investment in our future, and to short change it would be irresponsible," Kohl said.

"Pell Grants continue to be the cornerstone of many students' financial aid packages in Wisconsin and around the country," Feingold said. "These grants are a way for students who otherwise couldn't afford a higher education to pay for one. Simply put, without Pell Grants, many individuals couldn't even consider college. Funding for education is one of the most important investments that we can make. A better-educated workforce will lead to a more skilled workforce, higher productivity, and a better economy."

For Wisconsinites, the changes mean a sharp reduction in the allowance for state taxes, which is used to reduce a family's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for financial aid purposes. The allowance will drop from 10% to 7% for those making under $15,000, and from 9% to 6% for those making over $15,000. This makes Wisconsin one of the states hardest hit by the changes. According to the University of Wisconsin (UW), over half of the 3,700 students at UW-Madison who receive Pell Grants will see a cut in those grants, with an average cut of $383 per student. Since Pell recipients tend to be low-income, and since Pell Grant awards are already inadequate to meet the needs of most recipients, this cut is significant. Furthermore, the changes to the state tax allowance will impact other state and federal financial aid programs, magnifying the effect.

Earlier this week, Feingold and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced a resolution that calls on the Senate to increase the maximum Pell Grant award to $9,000 per student by 2011.

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