Putting Education Reform To The Test

Grant Program Critical to Florida Students, Colleges Target of Debt Debate

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor after meeting with the GOP caucus

A $17 billion increase to a college aid program for low-income students is one reason U.S. House Republicans are balking at plan to raise the federal debt limit, according to The Hill newspaper.

Republicans are asking House GOP leadership why they are growing the Pell Grant program in a bill designed to cut the federal budget deficit?

The program is critical in Florida, whose students received $1.93 billion in grants — up to a maximum of $5,350 — during the 2009-2010 school year according to U.S. Department of Education data. Only students in California and Texas received more in Pell Grant money.

Five of the top 20 public colleges for Pell Grants in 2009-2010 are in Florida, including the nation’s largest in Miami-Dade College, Valencia Community College, Broward College, Florida International University and University of Central Florida.

House Republican leadership said boosting the Pell Grant program was a concession to Democrats for other cuts.

“This is a compromise piece of legislation that was negotiated between the Speaker and the bipartisan leadership in the Senate,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters Thursday afternoon…

The inclusion of the extra money for Pell Grants could cost Republican votes.

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) has compared Pell Grants to “welfare”.

“So you can go to college on Pell Grants — maybe I should not be telling anybody this because it’s turning out to be the welfare of the 21st century,” Rehberg told Blog Talk Radio in April. “You can go to school, collect your Pell Grants, get food stamps, low-income energy assistance, Section 8 housing, and all of a sudden we find ourselves subsidizing people that don’t have to graduate from college.”


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