NAACP Opposes Planned Cuts In Pell Grant Program

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is calling on Congress to reject cuts in college financial aid that have been proposed by the Bush Administration. Nearly 40 percent of African American students depend on Pell Grants to help pay for college.

A new Department of Education formula for calculating eligibility for college financial aid students would reduce Pell Grants to 1.3 million college students and eliminate grants to nearly 90,000 students. The NAACP is asking the Administration to delay restrictions until Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act.

"This attempt to reduce student aid funding is another example of the Bush Administration trying to cut government costs by penalizing low income and working families," said NAACP Acting President and CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes. "We oppose this change in the Pell Grant formula because it will create a hardship for thousands of African Americans."

The NAACP supports HR 114, the "Restoring College Access for all Act," sponsored by Congressmen Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Rush Holt (D-NJ). The Bishop-Holt bill will restore funding to students who would be deprived of much-needed federal assistance by the new rule.

John H. Jackson, NAACP National Director of Education, said: "Over the years, the Pell Grant has been a major source of financial assistance for African American and Latino students seeking a college education. Recognizing that these populations are still underrepresented in America's colleges and universities, it is both egregious and economically unwise for Congress and this administration to pay for budget shortfalls by enacting fiscal restrictions. These restrictions will impact the college and professional opportunities to minorities whose presence universities and corporations are already struggling to increase."

The new formula for calculating eligibility for college financial aid comes as students are already struggling with skyrocketing college costs and declining grant funding. "Students are facing tuitions that are 10.5 percent higher at four-year public institutions this year alone–under this climate the federal government should be increasing opportunities to youth not cutting them," said Jackson.

Over the last three years, tuitions have risen by 35 percent, and as a result some 220,000 young people are being forced out of college.

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