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November 18, 2010 3:29 PM Pell: the Full Funding Problem

By Daniel Luzer

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There’s currently not enough money to fully fund Pell next year. Without more money for Pell, it’ll be hard for poor students to go to college, since the grant is an essential part of the way they pay for college.

Oh, don’t worry about that, says the Heritage Foundation; Pell is really bad anyway. Lindsey Burke at Heritage argues that:

The Obama Administration and some Members of Congress argue that another $5.7 billion is needed in order to avoid a funding shortfall and a reduction in the maximum grant award of 15 percent. But continuing to increase federal subsidies for higher education through the Pell grant program would not solve the college cost problem and could exacerbate inefficiencies and tuition hikes at universities.

This, however, is sort of like arguing that funding Pell wouldn’t be an effective cure for cancer. No one has ever argued that increasing Pell Grants would solve the college cost problem. In fact, fully funding for Pell would almost certainly not reduce the cost of college.

It’s not supposed to do that. What it is supposed to do is help individual low-income students pay for college. That it does rather well. Pell currently provides $5,550-a-year maximum for a full-time student. That’s enough to cover the cost of some relatively inexpensive schools. If Congress doesn’t appropriate more money for Pell, there will only be about $4,700 a-year maximum available for students.

All Pell does is give low-income people money for college. That’s all it’s supposed to do. Giving them less money for college, therefore, would be worse, much worse. That’s all that matters. [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

Comments

  • Pell Watcher on November 19, 2010 9:49 AM:

    Although Pell allows for $5500 per year maximum, the average Pell grant in 2008-2009 was only $2945, according to US Dept of Ed data.