Next year may be especially challenging for low-income students to pay their tuition if President Donald Trump’s proposal to cut $3.9 billion from the Pell Grant program is approved as part of his 2018 budget. This cut is part of the $9 billion total that he plans to cut from the U.S. Department of Education next year, USA Today reported earlier this month.
The Pell Grant program, created in 1972, is the largest federal grant program in the country. It has benefitted mostly students who live in households with income less than $40,000 per year. Students who have a household income of around $20,000 receive the most benefits. The grant can send students up to $5,920 in aid if they need it.
Students who receive the Pell Grant to assist in their college finances said the potential cuts are concerning.
“I think it’s obvious [Donald Trump is] taking money from people who can’t afford to lose it,” said Nia Fraser, an undeclared freshman in the Fox School of Business. “I generally cannot afford to be here without a Pell Grant, and it’s just one extra thing added to the list of things that are gone with his administration and it is exhausting.”
“I don’t agree with it being cut because even though I only receive about $3,000 from the grant, even if it’s cut down a little bit, my family can’t afford to lose that money,” said Aliya Bright, a freshman chemistry major. “My mom is the only adult with a job in my household, and my dad doesn’t receive much money, so we need every little bit that we can get.”
Bright and Fraser are two of the thousands of students who receive the federal aid at Temple. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 9,672 students received Pell Grants at Temple in 2014-15, the most recently reported year. Students with Pell Grants made up about 34 percent of the student body that year, and on average receive $4,151 from the federal program.
Temple had the second highest percent of students to receive Pell Grants among state-related universities — 63 percent of students at Lincoln University had Pell Grants, 16 percent at Penn State and 17 percent at the University of Pittsburgh.
“As a top-tier public research university, Temple appreciates federal investment in programs that promote college access, student success and scientific discovery, all of which are absolutely fundamental to our mission and values,” Stephanie Ives, associate vice president and dean of students, wrote in an email.
She added that the university will “track” the funding for Pell Grants and contact the state’s congressional representatives.
Trump also proposed the elimination of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, which is for students with more financial need.
Congress must still approve Trump’s budget proposal before any funds can actually be cut.
Nenseh Koneh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.