Congress may cut Pell Grant funding

A U.S. House bill currently waiting to pass through Congress threatens to cut Federal Pell Grant funding by 15 percent, which could affect 1,418 students who rely on Pell Grant funds at Guilford College.

Vice President for Finance Greg Bursavich told The Guilfordian that the college is 80 percent tuition-driven, and anything that could potentially threaten enrollment is a cause for concern.

“Any institution where students are relying on Pell Grants to attend will be affected by the changes,” said Bursavich. “The college’s tuition will remain the same, but it’s the potential student that is affected.”

Congress has already approved Federal Pell Grant cuts, which will come into effect during the 2011-12 academic school year. These cuts will decrease the maximum amount of aid for the neediest students from $5,550 to $4,705, a difference of $845.

Guilford College receives about $5 to $5.5 million from the Federal Pell Grant program.

Bursavich says that every college in the country relies on Federal Pell Grants.

“Those colleges that have students with a greater financial need will have more students affected by the decision,” said Bursavich.

According to the News and Record, the plan to cut Pell Grant funding mixed with state budgetary issues in the UNC system will greatly affect students’ access to classes. UNC-system leaders recently asked campuses to prepare plans for the 15 percent reductions.

According to the News and Record, that means a loss of more than $15 million for A&T; UNCG will prospectively lose $25.9 million, which will effectively eliminate funding for 2,000 positions. Over 6,400 course sections on UNC campuses would be eliminated, according to the News and Record.

President and Professor of Political Science Kent Chabotar says he hopes Guilford will be spared the plight that the UNC system is facing.

“Most at risk in Congress is the ability to use grants in the summer, which provides $250,000-$280,000,” said Chabotar. “Even at this late date, we do not know how this affects summer 2011 because we do not have a federal budget approved.”

Director of Student Financial Services Paul Coscia told The Guilfordian that at this juncture, the college is sending financial aid packages out to students with the reward amount that will hopefully come.

“At this point, the major cuts are only prospective, so we are advising potential students that the reward could change,” said Coscia.

Sophomore Tim Leisman believes that educational budget cuts are part of a backwards trend within the U.S. government.

“We are cutting the wrong things in our government,” said Leisman. “We are not looking at how these cuts will affect our future, but looking at how we can achieve short-term resolution to our crisis. Cutting education is going to cripple our country and cause its collapse; we cannot continue these policies and hope to achieve a sustainable future.”

As Congress continues to deliberate on balancing the national budget, colleges around the nation are still unsure how this will affect them.

“We are waiting on Congress to come to a decision before we know how to prepare for the affect the bill will have on students and, ultimately, the college,” said Coscia.