Bush sells students a lemon

The president attempted to camouflage cuts to Perkins Loans with a small Pell Grant hike.

Last week, President George W. Bush announced in his budget address that he was increasing Pell Grant awards. This is a good thing on its face, but he conveniently did not mention that he is trying to eliminate the Perkins Loan program, Upward Bound and Talent Search – a program aimed at assisting first-generation college students – among other programs. It doesn’t take a college graduate to recognize fuzzy math or a bad deal.

We cannot criticize Bush for his decision to increase Pell Grants, although he should have done it long ago. However, Bush should be criticized for asserting that essentially trading Perkins Loans and other programs that help students attend college for a small increase in Pell Grants is a step in the right direction. Bush’s proposed budget does provide an overall increase in higher-education financial aid, but the vast majority of students will experience a reduction in their financial rewards.

The elimination of the Perkins Loan program specifically hurts those unfortunate students in the middle class who are considered not poor enough to receive Pell Grants and need based-aid but do not have financial resources to cover college costs. The loss of the Perkins Loan program will mean an elimination of $6.4 million to the Twin Cities campus. Bush’s proposal increases the maximum amount of money that can be given out in Pell Grants by a petty $500 during ten years. Experts say that to have any effect, the grants should be increased by that much each year.

While students always appreciate an increase in grant money, the access to low-interest loans is much more important to students because it allows students to cover the gap between what they can afford and money demanded by the schools. Because Bush’s plan will force students to take out higher-interest loans, it will end up costing them more in the long run as well. Bush’s proposal is a bad deal. Perhaps Bush would make a better used-car salesman than a president.