Bush Goes to School on Low-Income Students

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,
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,
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
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

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