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Budget proposals seek education cuts

President Barack Obama’s 2012 federal budget plans to cut $20 billion in Pell Grant funding for the coming year and $100 billion over the next decade, among other cuts. The GOP budget also proposes large slashes to education.

The GOP measure plans to cut the maximum Pell Grant to $4,705, which represents a $845 reduction from the current $5,550 allotted to students. Obama’s plan seeks to cut other features of the Pell Grant in order to keep the grant at its current level.

According to the Stanford University Facts website, 17 percent of undergraduates received Pell grants in the 2009-2010 academic year. Federal Pell Grants are awarded to “needy” students who have not received their bachelor’s degree. Awards range from $400 to $5,500 per calendar year.

Obama’s budget looks to end a three-year experiment that allows students to qualify for two Pell Grants in a calendar year and use those funds for summer school. Other cuts will eliminate the government subsidy that pays the interest on graduate student loans. Undergraduate students, however, will still be able to take advantage of that government subsidy.

The three-year experiment aimed to encourage more college graduates to attend graduate school, but the Department of Education found that the program did not achieved its goal.

Since 2008, the Pell Grant program has experienced a higher number of applicants due to the economic crisis and the growing number of students attending college. It now faces a $20 billion deficit.

“We’re making some tough choices to protect the Pell Grant,” said Justin Hamilton, press secretary for Education Secretary Arne Duncan to the Associated Press.

Without these steps, the maximum Pell Grant could decline by $2,500 “at a time when the cost of college is skyrocketing,” Hamilton said.

– Ivy Nguyen