I come from one of the poorest parts of New York City, in the borough of Brooklyn. I am also one of three children in a single parent home; before moving to Brooklyn, my family actually spent time living in a shelter. Thanks to the federal Pell Grant Program, a scholarship from the school that I attend, and Federal Work-Study, I have been given the BEST opportunity of my life–the opportunity to attend one of the most prestigious liberal arts institutions in America, College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester, Massachusetts. Attending Holy Cross costs more than $52,000 a year and there is no way that I would ever have been able to attend this school without help. I am eternally grateful for the student aid that I receive because it has allowed me to be the first person in my family to attend college. I can say with confidence that had it not been for the financial aid that I receive to attain a higher education, I might not have the opportunity to make a better life for my family and me.
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President Obama will hold a special live Facebook town hall discussion on April 20. Facebook is selecting questions to ask the president. We encourage all friends and supporters of the Student Aid Alliance to submit questions for the event. We want to make sure the president remains firm in his support of federal student aid, and protects the programs that help students pay for college and keep America competitive.
There are two ways to submit questions:
- Post them on the event’s wall at
- Submit them via http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/facebooktownhall
Here are some sample questions:
- Mr. President, the House of Representatives has voted to slash federal student aid. Will you let those draconian cuts stand in the FY 2012 budget?
- I recognize that reducing the federal debt is key to our nation’s future prosperity. So is an educated workforce. Mr. President, how will you make sure needy students like me have an opportunity to contribute to our country’s future prosperity?
- Balancing the federal budget is a good idea, but it should not be done on the backs of students. How will we innovate our way to a brighter future if students are not able to pursue a college degree?
- Thank you Mr. President for fighting for Pell Grant funding. If not for the other federal student aid programs, I would not be able to continue my higher education. Will you protect the funding of the other student aid programs, too?
Take action today to support student aid! Thank you once again for your support.
- Post them on the event’s wall at
President Obama and congressional leaders continue to negotiate details of a FY 2011 budget deal, but the clock is running out this afternoon. As we anxiously wait to see if the federal government will shut down tonight, we want to give you an update on what it would mean for the federal student aid programs — and ask you to help make sure that student aid cuts in continuing budget negotiations are as modest as possible.
Funding for the 2011-12 Academic Year (beginning July 1, 2011)
Practically speaking, if the government shuts down tonight, the immediate impact on students is not likely to be great. However, the large issue for student aid funding is how much funding will be cut in the deal itself. The budget compromise will most likely include elimination of “year-round Pell” funding, effective July 1, 2011. The fate of SEOG funding is unclear. Funding has already been eliminated for the LEAP state grant program for the 2011-12 award year, meaning that state need-based aid will be reduced $64 million starting July 1, 2011.
Funding for the 2012-13 Academic Year (beginning July 1, 2012)
While the leadership has been working all week on a deal for FY 2011, as outlined above, the House Budget Committee has begun work on the next fiscal year. The ramifications for student aid funding in FY 2012 are dire.
The House Budget Committee approved a FY 2012 budget plan Wednesday that, in the worst-case scenario, could slash the maximum Pell Grant to as low as $1,400 as of July 1, 2012, and could eliminate SEOG and other student aid programs. Committee staff mentioned a $5,000 maximum Pell Grant, the elimination of the in-school interest subsidy for all student loans, and the repeal of SAFRA during the mark up.
Now is the time for us to respond to this effort to slash student aid. As we face the growing prospect of a government shutdown this weekend, we need to remind both Democrats and Republicans that student aid is an investment in the future of our nation, and must be protected. CLICK HERE to go to our Action Center, where you can quickly create and send a message to your members of Congress.
Without the partnership between the federal government, states, institutions and families, millions of students would not be able to go to college.
We call on the 111th Congress to continue its bipartisan support of the federal student aid programs – which combine grant, work-study, and loan programs to enable low-income students to succeed.
The Student Aid Alliance is a coalition of organizations representing students, parents, colleges and universities, and others, who believe that all qualified students should be able to go to college, regardless of their financial resources.
The Pell Grant Maximum should be $5,550.
The Student Aid Alliance greatly appreciates the increases in the Pell Grant maximum award provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for FY 2009, and asks that sufficient appropriations be provided to ensure a $5,550 grant in FY 2010. We support this historic level of grant assistance. We also appreciate the $200 million increase for the Federal Work Study Program provided for FY 2009 and FY 2010 through ARRA.
SEOG funding should be increased to $1 billion.
The Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program provides up to an additional $4,000 in grant assistance to Pell Grant recipients in order of need. SEOG expands college options for these students. By law, colleges and universities match one-to-three the federal SEOG funds, and often far exceed this matching level, multiplying the federal investment in low-income students.
The Perkins Loan Program Federal Capital Contribution should be increased to the newly reauthorized level of $300 million; and loan cancellations should be increased to $125 million.
There is renewed interest in this campus-based, low-interest, federal student loan program, with the administration’s proposal to restructure Perkins, and make major investments in its success. While congressional committees deliberate the possibilities for the future of Perkins Loans, we ask appropriators to increase funding for the program in FY 2010, which will allow institutions to provide more loans to lowincome students in these tough economic times.
Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnerships (LEAP) should be increased to $200 million.
The LEAP program consists of two critical components – LEAP and GAP. The Federal LEAP program has been the foundation of state-matched need-based grants since 1972, generating more than $840 million for student grants each year. Over half of LEAP recipients are from families with incomes under $20,000. The newly authorized Grants for Access and Persistence (GAP) program will allow states to create robust partnerships with institutions of higher education, businesses, and philanthropic organizations to provide low-income students with additional need-based grants; increase participation in early intervention programs that provide information, mentoring and outreach services to students in middle and secondary schools; and provide early assurance of aid eligibility. This program can play a critical part in meeting the goals of the proposed Access and Completion Incentive Fund.
TRIO program funding should be increased to $968 million.
The TRIO programs are designed to help low-income, first-generation college students prepare for, enter, and graduate from college. TRIO Programs help students overcome non-financial barriers higher education through support services. Two-thirds of TRIO students come from families with incomes of less than $34,000 where neither parent graduated from college. The TRIO programs currently serve more than 840,000 students in all 50 states and some U.S. territories.
Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) should be increased to the authorized level of $400 million.
GEAR UP provides students from low-income schools with the necessary academic skills and aspirations successfully prepare for and succeed in college. The program uses a K-16 approach designed to increase student academic preparation and performance; create system education reform; and leverage additional matching resources beyond the federal investment, including businesses. With a foundation of early academic interventions, a strong academic core program, parental and community involvement, GEAR UP has served millions of low-income students in 48 states, four territories, and the District of Columbia since 1998.
Graduate level programs should be increased to $77 million. Supporting the need-based educational programs that will create the next generation of scholars, faculty, and experts in a wide spectrum of fields will help address pressing national issues and the challenge of our economic downturn. Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need should be funded at $41 million. The Jacob Javits Fellowship program should be funded at $16 million. The Thurgood Marshall Legal Educational Opportunity Program should be funded at $5 million. The Patsy T. Mink program should be funded at $15 million.