Pell Grant: Write an Op-Ed

It is critically important for AASCU members build awareness and support for the Pell Grant program in their communities by writing to their local newspapers and blogs. Below is a helpful group of resources to guide these efforts:


Pell grants an investment in area's economic well-being

Gregory H. Williams is president of the University of Cincinnati. James C. Votruba is president of Northern Kentucky University.

Maintaining federal support for students is critical to reaching our national goal of increasing the number of college graduates and, within Ohio and Kentucky, of growing our educated workforce and attracting new industry. In addition, postsecondary education is a pathway out of poverty and into gainful employment.

The cornerstone of federal student support is the Pell grant. The Pell grant currently provides a maximum grant, not a loan, of $5,550 to qualifying students. At the University of Cincinnati and NKU, high percentages of undergraduate students qualify for Pell Grants. Along with the availability of federal student loans and institutional and state aid, Pell grants often are the key difference in making a college education a possibility for an income-eligible student.

Pell also works as an important piece of the puzzle in providing opportunity and improving college completion for low income, first- generation students. At NKU and UC, we partner with the local schools to provide services through federal programs within the K-12 schools to increase the number of area students seeking a postsecondary education. Pell makes it possible when students are ready to attend college.

But Pell is also key to raising the economic development of our region and state by increasing the number of educated and taxpaying citizens. Local industry and state and local governments have an interest in seeing the Pell maximum remain at $5,550, too. A recent report entitled "The Undereducated American" by the Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce found that the U.S. is losing its economic edge because we are not producing enough graduates to meet workforce demand. To stop this trend, according to the study, the U.S. needs 20 million people to complete some postsecondary education by 2025.

During the current budget negotiations, lawmakers in Washington D.C. are looking at areas to make cuts in the discretionary budget. This is understandable, and needs to be done in the current fiscal environment. But they should not cut something that is an investment in our future economic well-being, and that produces the future workforce of our state and our cities. A cut to the Pell grant would be a detriment to our workforce and the future economic well-being of the region. During this worrisome economic period, we need to invest in our future. And now, more than ever, we need our leaders to recognize the importance of Pell grants by supporting the program at current levels and, thereby, investing in our youth and our future by creating taxpaying and hard working assets within our communities.

Cincinnati Inquirer 7/29/11