Pell Grants take massive hit

Anthony Hodge

The House of Representatives has approved a budget cut plan to cut $845 million in Pell Grants, which Cerritos College has already estimated would affect 12,240 students as soon as next fall.

However, this plan still needs to pass through Senate, whom opposes this plan and are due to set a proposal by March 18.

Scott Lay, CEO of the Community College League of California, said that these cuts will reduce the maximum Pell Grants from $5,550 to $4,705, which is a 15 percent decrease.

“The cut would reduce the Pell Grants for 418,000 California community colleges, collectively slashing their financial aid by $203 million,” Lay said.

According to Kimberly Westby, Dean of Student Support Services for Cerritos, those 12,240 students were based of the 2010-2011 financial aid reports.

Westby added that there is also a possibility that this budget cut could affect the 2011 summer sessions.

“There is also a proposal on the table eliminate what’s called ‘year-round Pell’, and it goes into effect this summer.

 “If [students] used all of their Pell Grant in the fall and all of it in the spring based on being enrolled full-time on both semesters, they wouldn’t have any funds available for summer,” she said.

 Westby added, “If the ‘year -round Pell’ doesn’t get eliminated, we can go into the 2011-2012 Pell and give it for summer. But there’s also a proposal on the table to end the ‘year-round Pell,’ and we don’t have more information after that (whether or not the proposal will pass).”

If the proposal passes, Westby advises students to look into scholarships and apply for loans.

Still, Westby wants students to apply for financial aid as soon as possible to get the funding that will be available for the fall.

Board of Trustees President Linda Lacy said that students will still be eligible for the Board of Governors Fee Waiver (BOGFW).

Lacy also said, “I would highly advise students to seek any bit of tutoring if they’re behind in their class and not drop classes, because there is no guarantees when you would be able to get those classes again.”

Lay has said that president Barack Obama opposes this budget plan.

“However, the bill is necessary to continue operating the federal government, so it would be difficult to veto,” Lay added.  

Lay has advised anyone who opposes the cut to go to DontCutPellGrants.com and sign the petition to overturn the budget cut plan.

According to CCCCO.edu, 75 California Community College leaders met with the Chancellor and members of the C.C.C. Board of Governors at Washington D.C. on Feb. 13 to 16 at a National Legislative Summit.

The congress had until March 4 to the make the final decision