Congressman Crowley Fights Republican Efforts to Diminish Financial Aid for College Students

Apr 6, 2011 Issues: Education

Washington, D.C. —Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) is standing up for students trying to manage the soaring costs of higher education by defending the Pell Grant program, which provides critical financial aid to students. During a hearing held yesterday by the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee, of which Congressman Crowley is a member, Crowley defended Pell Grants as a crucial resource for families fighting to afford a college education. In the hearing, which focused on reducing duplication and waste in government programs, Crowley refuted Republican claims that the Pell Grants program should be considered “welfare” and consolidated with other programs. Over 22,000 students in New York’s 7th Congressional District and 9.4 million students across the country have benefitted from Pell Grants.

“While we should be looking for ways to reduce duplication and waste in federal programs, I think we need to take a careful look at what we consider ‘unnecessary’ programs. Investing in the education of future generations is entirely necessary to ensure a bright economic future for American families and our country,” said Congressman Crowley. “For many students in New York and across the country, the Pell Grant is the primary piece of their financial aid package – and can mean the difference between affording college and not.”

At a time when it became more difficult for families to afford a college education for their children, Democrats raised the amount of the Pell Grant and ensured that more students can benefit from this assistance during the last Congress. New data from the Department of Education says Pell Grant recipients are more likely to stay in school and complete their college education than their non-Pell-receiving counterparts.

Despite such convincing statistics, Republicans continue to target the Pell Grant program. The Republicans’ budget resolution released this week proposed cutting the annual federal allocation for Pell Grants by approximately 50 percent, reducing the amount of the grant for those who do receive it and denying the grant completely to as many as 1 million students. This proposed cut comes on the heels of a significant slash of over $5 billion to the Pell Grant program by Republicans earlier this year. Additional legislation proposed by House Republicans and discussed during the Subcommittee hearing would combine the Pell Grant program with over 70 other unrelated programs that provide assistance to lower- and middle-income families – such as heating assistance, job training, and Community Health Centers – and then limit funding for all of these programs.

“Republicans are trying to spin cuts in education by attacking Pell Grants as ‘welfare’. But, I’m sure the thousands of students in my district who have benefitted from these grants would be shocked to hear them labeled as such. If anything, I think they would attribute Pell Grants for helping them obtain a college degree and enable them to work and compete in the 21st century economy,” added Crowley. “If our goal is to enable all Americans to build a better life for themselves and their families, then I would think my Republican colleagues would want to join me in supporting access to college education for all.”

Congressman Crowley is a seven-term representative from the 7th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a chief deputy whip in the Democratic leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives and is a member of the Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for all tax, trade and Social Security issues, as well as health and retirement security.

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