Pell Grant Shortage

The New York Times recently reported that the Federal Pell Grant fund has a shortage of about $6 billion. The Pell Grant makes it possible for lower income students to attend a college or university, awarding up to roughly $4,700 per year to needy based students. More than six million students will receive Pell Grant aid this year, with nine out of 10 students who receive the aid coming from families that make less than $40,000 annually. With such an important program facing threats of reduction, the federal government needs to come up with a reasonable way to replenish the fund. The blame for the shortage is widespread. Roughly 800,000 more students are applying for Pell Grant aid than in previous years. In 2008, almost nine million students completed a FAFSA âÄî up 16 percent from 2007. And in a world where rising tuition, inflation, and a sluggish economy are hitting students hard, the demand for aid goes up even greater. It makes one wonder if the country is going back to a system where only the wealthy can attend a higher education institution. Indeed, states have allocated less of their funding to universities in the past decade. While states should retain some autonomy from the federal government in funding their university and college systems, the federal government should also retain consistent funding levels with programs as important as Pell Grants. The total fund for the Pell Grant is $14 billion, and when it is in need of an additional $6 billion, something drastic needs to happen to assure needy Americans will get the education they deserve. As America spends roughly $200 million in Iraq each and every day, the federal government should not forget about what is going on with our own higher education system. If the Pell Grant Fund is reduced in any form, lower income students will face great obstacles in attaining a college degree. We hope the federal government will realign some of their funding priorities to replenish the fund. With so many people dependent on such a large program, federal officials should adopt a âÄútoo big to failâÄù attitude toward something other than banks and brokerage firms.