Senate Panel Approves Funding Boost for Pell Grant

July 4, 2012

The major news this week was the Senate panel that approved funding for President Obama's health care and financial services overhaul on laws and actually boost spending for Pell Grants, helpful low income college students. It was a major win for students across America who have dealt with the threat of Pell Grant losing its funding as well as changes that have been made to the program recently that have left many students at a loss for a college education.

The twin Appropriations Committee voted 16 to 14, coming after two spending bills the budget year that would begin on October 1st. Now the bills must enter the Senate for full consideration. Republicans have already come out as uniform opposition against both health care and more funding for Pell Grant. A $159 billion measure funding education and health programs would boost the Pell Grant by $85, bringing the maximum amount a student could get per semester to $5,635. This also contains increases for health research and schools for disadvantaged students.

The cuts that were proposed by Obama to energy subsidies for the poor were also reversed, as the administration wanted to force big cuts to community services grants to local groups that also serve the poor. The panel awarded the IRS with a $702 million boost that would restore cuts forced upon the agency over two budget cycles ago, basically since Republicans took over the House. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission would also get a full 50 percent budget increase to cover the expanded amount of responsibilities since financial services went through an overhaul two years.

The boost to the Pell Grant is championed by many student advocacy groups, many of which have shown the disparity that recent Pell Grant changes and economic strife have caused college students. While many have turned to student loans, the Pell Grant remains the last program that can truly offer hope to low-income college students struggling to get a future. The hope is that the bill will pass in the Senate and eventually provide a better future, not just for a country in need of a health care system but also for students who want to have money for school.

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