UVU braces as President Obama presents education budget

President Barack Obama’s planned education cuts to the Pell Grant and other federal aid programs have students and faculty at this university apprehensive for 2012.

According to THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, the budget calls for a $100 billion cut over the next 10 years, eliminating two-a-year Pell Grants and the subsidy that pays interest on the loans of graduate students while they were enrolled. The budget has raised numerous concerns from students and faculty, who believe a better solution is necessary.

“Anytime there are changes in Pell eligibility, it impacts students,” said Linda Makin, chief planning, budget and policy officer. “We believe the change last year that allowed students to have the summer Pell Grant was beneficial because it allowed students to get through their education in a smaller time frame.”

Makin went on to say it would be unfortunate if the two-a-year Pell Grants were removed because it increased enrollment and provided an alternative for students who could not find summer work in the down economy.

In addition, students completing their graduate studies at public institutions would be disadvantaged if they were forced to pay interest on their loans while attending school.     “I wouldn’t have been able to finish my school without financial aid because I don’t make enough from work,” said Curtis Whiting, a sophomore in the Business Management program who will complete his associate degree this semester. “I wouldn’t have gone back to school to get my associate’s if I hadn’t received financial aid. It also affects my decision of going on to grad school.”

Students across campus share similar sentiments with Makin and Whiting, concerned with the future of both their undergraduate and graduate educations if such cuts were approved, in addition to the challenge of maintaining grades while working.

Taylor McAllister is a sophomore studying Exercise Science. He has two brothers in college and all three receive Pell Grants to help with tuition.

“My chances of getting a quality education would be reduced because of the stress of a full work and school load,” McAllister said.

Although education cuts are a serious issue, Makin reminds everyone there is a long way to go before anything is passed.

“It is early in the process, so it is hard to know which [proposals] will hold and which will die,” Makin said. “It is puzzling in light of President Obama’s initiative to encourage education and greater college completion.”

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