The House Republican Budget Would Eliminate Pell Grants For More Than One Million Students

The House Republican budget makes some deeply flawed arguments about higher education. It claims both that rising financial aid is driving college tuition costs upward and that Pell Grants, which help cover tuition costs for low-income Americans, don’t go to the “truly needy.” Republicans — led by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) — use these falsehoods to justify cutting the Pell Grant program by $200 billion.

According to an analysis by the Education Trust that was provided to the Huffington Post, the House Republican budget would ultimately knock more than one million students off of Pell Grants entirely:

More than 1 million students would lose Pell grants entirely over the next 10 years under Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, according to an analysis that the national reform organization Education Trust provided to The Huffington Post.

And by the looks of it, the Ryan budget, which is slated to hit the House floor this week, would hit the poorest kids hardest. […]

The budget would cut Pell grant eligibility for students who attend classes on a less-than-halftime schedule — which usually means low-income students who need to work their way through college.

And it gets worse. Sixty percent of students who receive Pell grants also take out loans — twice the rate for college students overall — so they might be doubly hit by the Ryan cuts: In addition to receiving less Pell money, they would have to start paying interest on their loans while still in school.

A new study shows that nearly half of American college students drop out before obtaining a degree, with cost being one of the main factors cited. Since 1985, the cost of college tuition and fees has nearly sextupled, while student loan debt in the U.S., according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has cleared $1 trillion.


At the same time that they’re proposing to cut Pell Grants, Republicans have become fond of promoting for-profit colleges, despite those schools having a record of leaving students buried in debt and with bleak job prospects. Currently, more than three-quarters of for-profit students fail to earn a degree after six years and they are more likely to default on their loans than students at non-profit institutions.