Bush Goes to School on Low-Income Students

The current administration fulfills political promises and devalues education in one 'Pell' Swoop

| January 20, 2005

Earlier this week, President Bush proposed raising the maximum aid allotted by the Pell Grant to low-income college students. On face, it seems a legitimate effort to make good on Bush's campaign promise to make education a priority. Critics argue it's just another disingenuous, dirty trick.

In reality, the 12 percent hike -- totaling $15 billion over five years -- barely keeps pace with the rate of inflation. And, over the past three years, college expenses have risen five times as fast as inflation. What's more, before the increase is instituted, a new tax formula will be implemented to determine who can receive a Pell Grant. As a result, some 90,000 students could lose their eligibility and, based on the updated formula, another 1.3 million students will actually get less grant money.

The Pell Grant was conceived by Senator Claiborne Pell in 1972 to offer low-income students a chance to earn a college degree, which at the time ensured a higher paying salary after graduation. Nowadays, though, the average college graduate comes into the workforce $20,000 in debt, and he or she is lucky to find a job that will help them pay it off.

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