Protect Pell grants from cuts

The federal budget for 2012 would trim funding by $100 billion.

Daily Editorial Board

In the budget plan he released Monday, President Barack Obama proposed $100 billion in cuts to student financial aid. While policymakers should be finding ways to cut unnecessary spending to balance the budget, cutting investments in education is both short-sighted and irresponsible.
Demand for financial aid has greatly increased during the recent recession, with groups as diverse as unemployed workers and first-generation college students needing financial assistance to attend. The Pell Grant âÄî one of the most prominent federal aid funds âÄî helps more than 9 million students every year, including about 7,500 University of Minnesota students.
ObamaâÄôs plan would not only cut subsidies on loans for graduate and professional students âÄî whose loans will gather interest while they are still in school âÄî but would also eliminate Pell Grants for the summer term. This will hurt nontraditional students studying part-time around their work schedules who may rely on summer classes to meet requirements.
Higher education is one of the best long-term investments a country can make. The value of an educated workforce extends not only to increased worker productivity âÄî which contributes to increased wages and economic growth âÄî but also lower crime rates, greater civic participation and the ability to compete globally.
Higher education also facilitates cutting-edge research and technological advances conducive to societal and economic growth. It may even nurture fresh ideas about how to actually solve the budget deficit. If we hope to promote economic recovery, we cannot and should not slash investment in higher education.