- The new "Path to Prosperity" budget proposal debuted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan on Tuesday would slash Pell Grants by $125 billion over the next 10 years.
- Pell Grants, which once covered more than half of college costs for lower-income students and now cover about a third, would be frozen for the next decade and see around a 24% reduction by 2024. Ryan's budget would also render middle-income students receiving modest Pell Grants ineligible.
- In addition, Inside Higher Ed reports that the budget would do away with in-school interest rate subsidies on undergraduate student loans, cut benefits of the "Pay As You Earn" repayment program, and end all federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.
It's hard to make sense of a plan to make cuts to grants for lower-income college students at a time when college tuition continues to rise ever higher (ironically at least partially due to funding cuts) and people ranging from employers to the federal government are pushing for a more educated workforce. It makes even less sense to make cuts to a program that helps debt-saddled graduates pay off student loans incurred, at least partially, because of policies that lead to a loftier higher ed price tag.
Economists have lambasted the budget. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities President Robert Greenstein called it "an exercise in hypocrisy," writing that it claims "to boost opportunity and reduce poverty while flagrantly doing the reverse."
"Ryan has criticized some of the poor for not working enough and says that he wants to promote work and opportunity. But his budget eliminates Pell Grants entirely for low-income students who have families to support, must work, and are attending school less than half time on top of their jobs."