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BC Petitions for Federal Pell Grants

News Editor

Published: Sunday, October 30, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

Given the prospect that Pell Grants could be cut as part of Washington's efforts to cut its deficit, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) is encouraging college administrators, faculty, staff and students to sign a national petition in support of federal student aid.

The United States Congress Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction has plans to cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion by Nov. 23, and in a recently proposed budget for fiscal year 2012, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives hope to cut $2.3 billion from the Federal Pell Grant program, a federal financial aid program that primarily helps low-income undergraduates.

The amount of money individual students get from the program each year will remain the same, but the number of students eligible for the grants will change. By counting Social Security benefits and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as "income," many students would effectively be pushed out of the program.

BC students receive approximately $4.8 million annually in Pell Grants – with $5,500 maximum per student – and the effect of their loss would be widely felt on campus, said University Spokesman Jack Dunn. "It varies year to year, based on need, but in 2010-2011, 1,188 BC students received Pell grants."

In a letter to presidents of AJCU member institutions, Rev. Greg Lucey, S.J., president of the AJCU, said recent legislation has already resulted in cuts to student aid of more than $30 billion.

"We simply cannot have Congress balancing the budget on the backs of students," Lucey said. "It is time to push back and show that the investment of Pell Grants and other campus-based aid programs is critical if the U.S. is to remain globally competitive."

The Student Aid Alliance, the higher education coalition of AJCU, and 61 other higher education associations, have created a petition in support of federal student aid that will be sent to Capitol Hill.

Tom Keady, vice president of governmental community affairs, encourages members of the BC community to sign the AJCU petition, asking Congress not to cut Pell Grants. "The higher education community, under the umbrella of the Student Aid Alliance, is now activating all colleges and universities across the U.S. to sign a national petition in support of federal student aid," he said. "In the past Reconciliation bills and the Budget Control Act, student aid has lost over $30 billion to pay down the deficit, and there is fear that we will lose even more funding."

"The goal is to have thousands of signatures on this petition, which we will send to Congress to show visible support for maintaining federal student aid programs, without cutting Pell Grants or other programs to pay down the deficit," Keady said. "It is time to push back and tell Congress not to balance the budget on the backs of students."

The petition can be found at

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