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02/07/2005 Entry: ""

Here are some quotes from an AP article about Bush's budget by Ben Feller that skated under the radar today:

"Perkins Loans also would be phased out. Those provided help to about 673,000 students in 2004...Bush wants to raise the maximum Pell Grant to $4,550 from $4,050 over five years, or $100 a year...The budget would raise loan limits to $3,500 from $2,625 for freshmen and to $4,500 from $3,500 for sophomores. Those caps haven't changed since 1986.

But at least one idea...may be a tougher sell. That is a plan to make banks assume a higher risk that students will default on loans, lowering the financial exposure for the government. That could prompt some banks to reduce loans to high-risk students, such as community-college students whose post-graduation income is less certain..."

Sounds good, doesn't it? Shift financial aid money from the middle-class, that presumably has other resources, to the very poor.

People tend to think of financial aid as something that helps the poor go to college. The fact is that in any real sense the poor were written out of the higher education equation in the 80s, when the rules were tightened to make sure that nobody could combine enough grants and loans into a total-pay package, enough to attend a college or university with no self-contribution. The increases in allowable funding outlined in the Bush budget, ranging from $900 to $1000 a year, won't close the gap between funding and college attendance in any meaningful way.

And Perkins loans are one of the few resources left to the middle-class family with dreams and aspirations - with a little help, they might be able to send a kid to college.

So what this budget does is make banks, who will be risking more, unwilling to make loans to the very poor, who need it most. And it removes one of the basic building blocks of the middle-class student's financing package.

You could call it a matter of ignorance - nobody in Bushco had to pay for their own higher education. Or you could have darker feelings about it. I do. A combination of personal circumstances left me with no resources at all besides my part-time earnings when it was time to go to college. I was lucky; I cobbled together the available resources (loans, grants, scholarships) and there was no gap between my costs and my financial aid. I couldn't do it now. That scares me half to death.

It should scare you too.

Posted by Lynn Loper

 

 

 

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