Help for middle-income students

Pell Grant reform should be tailored to the middle class.

President Barack Obama recently announced several new education reforms that are geared primarily at college students. One point in his plan was increasing the Federal Pell Grant. In his plan, money will be diverted from the federal student loan division, which the president hopes will have a $4 billion surplus after its own reconstruction. In the past, the average Pell Grant recipient came from a family making less than $20,000 per year. With the increase, families making up to $50,000 are eligible. ItâÄôs the eighth consecutive year Pell Grants have increased the maximum payout per student, but before, the U.S. Congress controlled the purse strings. The new system will let the Pell Grant automatically increase every year as inflation and/or tuition increases. But the increases still havenâÄôt kept pace with the rising cost of tuition or inflation. And in the current structure, families making between $20,000 and $50,000 annually are caught in a gap between federal assistance and the ability to pay for college their selves. An increased Pell Grant would help these families. The grant would be a huge boost to two-year schools. For students at four-year universities, the grant increase may not mean as much, but the return on years of loans at those schools will be much higher. That is because students will make enough after graduation to pay off those loans. That might not be the case for community college graduates who likely wonâÄôt make as much as their university counterparts. However, that is where the increase will help most. It should be said that this money wonâÄôt be given without scrutiny. The Pell Grant isnâÄôt awarded unless the recipient is already enrolled in college. However, additional requirements should be added. Performance in the classroom should be addressed to make sure that students are progressing. Because education is one of the cornerstones of life in the United States, itâÄôs only fitting to give everyone the same opportunities. This editorial, accessed via UWire, was originally published in The Lariat at Baylor University. Please send comments to [email protected].