Schumer & Goldstein Attack Cuts in Pell Grants for College
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, joined by CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein recently blasted a House proposal to reduce the amount of funding provided by Pell Grants to half a million New Yorkers and approximately nine million American students nationwide. Schumer said that the House-passed bill (H.R. 1), would reduce the amount of scholarships students could receive from Pell Grants by 15 percent from $5,500 to $4,705 and would make college much less affordable or impossible for students seeking educational opportunities. Schumer said that he would fight any cuts to the Pell Grant program so that all Americans who want to go to college can afford to do so.
“With skyrocketing tuition costs and a struggling economy, the last thing we should be doing is making it even more difficult for students to afford a college education, but that’s exactly what Republicans are trying to do,” said Schumer. “By cutting Pell Grant programs, the House proposal will not only make it more difficult for students to go to college – it will also make the United States less competitive with countries around the globe. We need to make sure that all students that want to go to college can do so, and I will fight hard to preserve these Pell Grant programs in their entirety.”
“About 6.3 million students received Pell Grants last year, including more than 127,000 undergraduates from The City University of New York—nearly half of our undergraduate student body,” said Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. “Across the country, as states’ financial difficulties have forced deep cuts to universities’ operating budgets and steep tuition increases, Pell Grants are an increasingly critical resource for students.”
In 2009-10, when the maximum Pell Grant was $5,350, the average grant was $3,646. The maximum Pell Grant for the 2010-11 academic year is $5,550. There is no absolute income threshold that determines who is eligible or ineligible for a Pell Grant award, but most Pell Grant recipients are low-income. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), in FY2008 (Academic Year 2008-2009), an estimated 62% of dependent Pell Grant recipients had a total family income at or below $30,000.
Schumer, joined by CUNY students from all five boroughs, described how Pell grants have been critical to their academic success. Without them, the students said, they would not be able to attend college.
Washieka Torres of the College of Staten Island said that without a full Pell grant, she would not have been able to pay to complete her degree after her mother was laid off two years ago. Warleny Colon, child of Dominican immigrants and the first in his family to go to college, hopes that his Pell-funded biology degree “will give me the competitive edge I need to be successful in a really difficult job market.”#