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The Importance of Pell Grants


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The Federal Pell Grant program is the oxygen that keeps the college dreams of millions of Americans alive, including mine. My collegiate journey isn’t particularly unique. Like millions of other college students nationwide, I started college in Fall 2021 at Queens College (QC) as a computer science major. I switched my major to economics a semester later after thoroughly enjoying two economic courses I took in the spring semester. When I could, I also worked part-time.

Throughout my collegiate journey, the Pell Grant has served as a catalyst for the American dream and a symbol of great opportunities that we associate our country with. I know this to be true because though I had access to the New York State Tuition Assitance Program (TAP), a state-funded grant, TAP did not cover my economics courses. My college needed to change my major in their system officially, and luckily, the funding I received from Federal Student Aid (FSA) covered those classes. 

Two years later, I am excelling in my major and plan to pursue a career in public service. I am grateful that despite the hiccups with changing my major, federal student aid did what it intended: act as a means of paying for college. My hope is that this intent will remain, especially for students like myself. QC is home to over 15,000 students, many of whom are from low or moderate-income families. It is a socioeconomic ladder like the thousands of other colleges in the country. More than 95 percent of Pell recipients are from families making less than $70,000. The average college graduate made more than $50,000 after graduation. The return on investment is great for the American economy and puts our money where our mouth is. 

The United States is the land of opportunity. It is the land of the American dream. That dream is likely plausible in the modern economy with a college education, and the Pell Grant keeps the American Dream afloat for college students by providing funding for their college education.

Many Americans live in an unpredictable world without a means to save for a ‘rainy day’ fund. If funding from the Federal Pell Grant program is allocated to other government agencies, then the American dream for millions may be stripped away or pushed further. 

Congress’s role is to represent the American people. Thus, Congress needs to do its job by keeping the Pell Grant surplus in the Pell Grant program to ensure future students have an opportunity to pursue college without worries about how they can afford to pay for it. 

Abhinandan is a freshman at Queens College, majoring in Economics. He is currently a reporter in his college newspaper, writing articles focused on local and national politics.