The Pell Grant program has seen a lot of spending increases in recent years, and the president’s budget proposal involved the idea of rolling it back a bit around the margins in order to preserve the sustainability of the program’s core functions. But as deficit reduction costs continue, one option under consideration is just doing some cuts for general deficit reduction. In light of the skyrocketing cost of college tuition, this would be a pretty unfortunate choice:
It’s true that ultimately the college affordability situation calls for a more systematic remedy than grants for poor kids. This trajectory is so bad that you can’t just fill the gap with ever-rising subsidies forever. But at the same time, even though “bending the curve” of tuition costs would be a very worthwhile subject for bipartisan talks, that’s not what DC’s focused on right now. They’re talking about cutting spending on subsidies for poor families without doing anything more systematic on the cost structure of higher education. It’s incredibly punitive to students in need, and considering the major nationwide benefits of a more educated, more skilled population, it’s incredibly shortsighted to boot.