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April 21, 2011 11:00 AM Obama on Financial Aid

By Daniel Luzer

ObamaPell1.jpg

Earlier this week President Obama indicated that he plans to oppose Republican efforts to cut Pell Grants. Or, rather, he plans to oppose specific plans to reduce the size of the maximum Pell Grant.

Speaking on Tuesday at an event at Northern Virginia Community College, Obama said:

More than 10,000 students at this college, at this college alone, are relying on Pell Grants to help pay their tuition… How many of you who are in the audience have gotten a Pell Grant to help you pay your way? How many of you can’t afford to pay another $1,000 to go to school? I know what this is like. Scholarships helped make it possible for me and for Michelle to go to college. It’s fair to say I wouldn’t be President if it hadn’t been for somebody helping me be able to afford college.

Actually it’s rather unlikely that either the president or his wife got Pell Grants to attend college. They’re only available to students from low-income families; both of the Obamas were from middle class households.

Still, it’s interesting to note that this the first time that we’ve had a president with a personal relationship to federal student loans and other financial aid. Earlier presidents attended college back when higher education was more affordable; national financial aid programs didn’t exist and things like student loans were relatively rare. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer