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Kohl Seeks Pell Grant Protection for Wisconsin Students During Hearing with Education Secretary

Location: Washington, DC


During a Senate hearing today, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) called on U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to protect Wisconsin college students from losing their Pell Grants as a result of Department of Education changes to eligibility requirements. The revisions would reduce or eliminate millions of Pell Grants for current recipients, thereby forcing these students to find other ways of paying for their education. Kohl is member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which held today's hearing to examine the Administration's proposed FY2006 budget for the Department of Education.

"It would be unfair to change the rules in the middle of the game for these students," said Kohl. "In Wisconsin alone, as many as 5,500 students who currently receive Pell Grants would either lose them completely or see a drastic reduction in the money they receive to pay for their education. I agree we need to use accurate tax information to determine eligibility for the grant program, but at the very least we should all be able to agree that it is unfair to take money away from the millions of students who currently rely on Pell Grants to finish their degrees."

Last year the U.S. Department of Education revamped the formula it uses to calculate financial aid for college students. The updated formula will be based on 2002 state and local tax data, in place of the current formula, which relies on tax information from 1988. The formula's effects reach beyond the Pell Grant, trickling down to a student's eligibility for federal subsidized loans, state grants and loans, and private sector need-based scholarships.

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