I am currently in my twenties, raising my two teenage sisters. If my aid is cut this year, I will not be able to attend Saint Joseph’s University next year, and work towards completing my degree. Right now, I am working very hard to reach my goals; utilizing the Federal Pell Grant has allowed me to set an example for my siblings of what a college career entails. I have a mother who has been diagnosed with H.I.V. and a father who died of AIDS; I want to be an advocate not only for myself but for my siblings and the community. I want to use my degree to star non-profit organizations that create awareness of different diseases and the consequences of people’s choices. I know my ancestors would be proud to see that I have had the opportunity to attend college with fewer barriers than they had.

Eliminating the Federal Pell Grant would only cause students to shoulder additional debt, and it is simply not American to allow young people to graduate from school owing what is basically the cost of a mortgage, but with no promising job. During this very difficult economic time, cutting students’ Pell grants, eliminating additional grants from SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant), and cutting services from the Federal TRIO Programs and GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) will make it impossible for millions of students to complete college. I was so sad to read about the proposal to cut TRIO, because not only was I was part of the TRIO Upward Bound Program, I was the student of the year.

When I first entered TRIO Upward Bound, it was clear that I needed direction. My grades were mediocre and I was doing the bare medium. But the director noticed potential in me that I did not know I possessed—I was so completely a product of my environment that I did not know how much I was worth. The director molded me and never gave up on me, and I finally realized that there are people who genuinely care. I take that experience with me everywhere I go. My experience in Upward Bound is embedded in me, and it’s the foundation that has helped me achieve a 3.8 GPA and remain competitive with my peers for academic success. Cutting programs is not the answer to balancing the budget.

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