Here’s What Our Partners Think of Huge Pell Grant Slashes

Today, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) subcommittee marked up the 2017 FY Labor-H Appropriations Bill, highlighted by sweeping cuts to Pell and deregulation of higher education institutions.

Members of Congress Scott and Hinojosa sent a letter to Chairman Hal Rogers and Ranking Member Nita Lowey of the House Committee on Appropriations, and to Chairman Tom Cole and Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Subcommittee regarding their opposition to Pell cuts.

Here’s what the Higher Ed, Not Debt campaign partners think:

Generation Progress Executive Director Maggie Thompson:

“Eliminating $1.3 billion from the Pell Grant program cuts off a critical lifeline for millions of vulnerable Americans who already struggle to make ends meet. As the cost of college soars to record highs, hardworking students do not deserve to see their higher education ambitions evaporate. Further, this bill will eliminate apprenticeship expansion efforts and gut gainful employment – a minimum educational attainment baseline for career colleges. These cuts will expose students to a higher education system that values profit over learning. Fully funding Pell Grants is essential for our country to truly compete in a modern economy. If this vital program does not fully function, we – as a generation, and as a country – will be at a severe disadvantage and sell ourselves tragically short.”


“The draft House FY2017 appropriations bill scheduled to be considered in committee tomorrow cuts Pell Grant funding by $1.3 billion, raiding funds needed to help millions of low- and moderate-income students struggling to attend and complete college. We join the 122 Members of Congress who today implored House appropriators not to cut Pell Grant funding.

“We urge the House Committee on Appropriations to reject this raid on Pell Grants and to instead use Pell Grant funds to invest in Pell Grants. Even with the scheduled increase in the maximum Pell Grant to $5,935, it will cover less than 30 percent of what it costs to attend a public four-year college, the smallest share in more than 40 years. The result:  high debt levels and dropout rates by low-income students who cannot afford to complete their degree.

“In addition to raiding Pell Grant funds, the draft House bill attempts again to block implementation of the common-sense gainful employment regulation designed to protect both students and taxpayers from career education programs that over charge and under deliver. TICAS and more than 50 organizations that advocate for students, veterans, college access and civil rights, as well as state attorneys general from across the nation, support the gainful employment regulation and strongly oppose any attempt to block its implementation.

“Congress should be making college more affordable and strengthening protections against waste, fraud, and abuse, not obstructing them.”

Young Invincibles Deputy Director Rory O’Sullivan:

“At a time when tuition and student debt levels are exploding, the House version of the Labor-H appropriations bill released today slashes financial aid for hardworking students across the country. Taking $1.3 billion from Pell Grants threatens to make college less affordable for over eight million low- and moderate-income individuals. Worse still, the bill strips out critical protections that ensure minimum educational outcomes for students attending career colleges. Finally, the bill cuts $100 million from apprenticeships expansion efforts, an essential tool to modernize our workforce and ensure young people have the skills to achieve successful careers. Now more than ever, our generation needs effective education and training beyond high school to achieve economic security and this bill would make those opportunities harder to reach.

We’re disappointed in the current bill, but we remain hopeful that during the upcoming markups, and in the months to come, common sense solutions to fix higher education will prevail over measures that threaten access for millions of hardworking students and families.”

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