When President Trump released his proposed budget this spring, we saw cuts to the Pell grant program of $3.9 billion. Now as members of Congress prepare to write their budget, they need to know that Pell grants are indispensable to today’s students and tomorrow’s economy.
Pell grants have been one of the country’s longest and most successful social mobility programs. Nearly 8 million students rely on Pell grants to be able to go to college and complete their degree. Pell grants are also one of our most valuable tools in fighting inequity in education and economic opportunity: more than 60 percent of African-American students and half of Latinx students benefit from Pell grants.
We simply cannot afford to cut Pell grants or curtail the growth of the program — Pell grants are as vital today as they have ever been. In fact, as the cost of college has soared, the value of Pell grants haven’t kept pace. In the 1980s, the maximum Pell Grant covered over half the cost of attending a four-year public college, but now it covers less than 30 percent of the cost of college. But to truly understand what’s at stake if Pell grants are cut, it’s best to meet some of the individuals who rely Pell grants to fund their educational aspirations.
Meet some of the graduates of Pell: