makes it more difficult for low-income students to qualify for the maximum amount of financial aid.
As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Ryan has pushed for two policies that would be particularly disastrous for the Pell Grant program. First, The Ryan budget proposes to rescind $13.4 billion next year — and $101 billion over 10 years — that is currently allocated to the Pell Grant program. And second, The Ryan budget proposes to cut funding for nondefense discretionary appropriations by $38 billion next year, which would cut an additional $1.7 billion from the Pell grant program.
The combined cuts of $15.1 billion next year alone would reduce Pell Grant funding by 42 percent, which would be devastating to our nation’s college students, especially Hispanic students who rely on financial aid to pay tuition and college expenses.
Under the current program, the Pell Grant covers approximately 22 percent of a Hispanic student’s college costs, which means that more than half of Hispanic students receiving Pell Grants also take out student loans. Rep. Ryan’s plan to cut Pell Grants would force low-income students and their families to borrow even more money to complete their college education.
Earlier this year, Governor Mitt Romney also advised cash-strapped students to “borrow money if you have to from your parents.” He followed by recounting a story about a friend who borrowed $20,000 from his parents at a low interest rate. Maybe that will be the same advice that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan offer to Hispanic students who lose their Pell Grants. But the simple reality is that not all Hispanic parents can afford to do that.
There is a massive gap in net worth between white households and Hispanic households. The median white household is worth approximately $110,000, compared to only $7,500 for Hispanic households. Pell Grants help to fill this financial gap for Hispanic students whose families cannot afford the rising cost of tuition and college expenses.
The best way to reduce the cost of the Pell Grant program is to rebuild our economy — and make sure that it works for everyone. Boosting family incomes will reduce the need for Pell Grants, and lowering the unemployment rate will reduce the number of adult workers exiting the labor market to return to college.
In the meantime, Hispanic college students continue to make important progress but Rep. Ryan’s budget plan to cut
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