Putting Education Reform To The Test

What Paul Ryan’s Budget Would Mean For College Aid And Schools

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Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney campaigns with his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, in Wisconsin.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has chosen U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate.

And with Ryan will come plenty of debate about his federal budget proposal.

So it’s worth revisiting a piece we wrote in April, looking at how Democrats were working to politicize cuts to federal college aid included in the proposed House budget:

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan — the Wisconsin Republican who wrote the House budget — notes that Pell Grants cost more than a country facing a $15 trillion debt can afford. His plan would reduce the maximum income of Pell recipients to $23,000 a year from $33,000 a year.

The budget would also set a maximum grant of $5,550 — about one-third the average total yearly cost of college.

“My concern is costs — new, unfunded liabilities on the federal government’s books — that’s going to make taxes higher, borrowing higher and give our children and grandchildren a even higher mountain of debt and taxes,” Ryan told Reason Magazine.

Republican budget analysts have argued the wide availability of federal college aid has contributed to the inflation in tuition. (The counter argument is here.)

But schools such as Hillsborough Community College say they depend on Pell Grants. More than 18,000 students receive some tuition assistance, HCC president Ken Atwater said.

The average Pell Grant at HCC is $3,200 a year. Florida residents receive the third-most Pell Grants of any state — $1.93 billion during the 2009–2010 school year, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

Ryan’s budget also trims other education programs in an effort to reduce federal spending.

Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein noted that Ryan’s budget would “shell out 33 percent less for ‘Education, training, employment, and social services'” over the next decade.

The nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association, said Ryan’s budget would cut $1.1 billion from early childhood education programs. The group is circulating an open letter asking Romney and Ryan to invest in education.

You’ll probably hear more about Ryan’s proposed overhaul of Medicare, but Democrats will likely follow-up on the college aid line of criticism they floated in April.

Read Ryan’s full budget proposal here.


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