College students dependent on Pell Grants hoping program not cut

News

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A proposed cut to federal financial aid could impact thousands of students at colleges and universities across Georgia and South Carolina.  NewsChannel 6 spoke with students about how drastic the cuts would be if President Trump gets Congress to adopt his new budget.

There are several proposed cuts in President Trump’s blueprint for the 2018 budget.  It eliminates the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program. It keeps the Pell Grant, but cancels $3.9 Billion dollars from the program, which helps many students pay for college.

Haylee Richardson, an Augusta University freshman told us, “Considering that I’m the first person in my family to go to school it’s very important.”

College students receiving financial aid across the CSRA are watching Congress closely.

Chantavia Chapman is one of them.

“I work and everything, but as far as paying for school by myself, the Pell Grant is a really huge help, the Augusta University junior said”

That’s because President Trump’s Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again might not be so great for students.

Maurice Greening is an East Georgia Junior who will be transferring to Augusta University.  He has receive the Pell Grant for the past few semesters.

“I feel it’s messed up because I mean people kind of need this kind of stuff,” Greening said.

“It’s kind of sad because I have five brothers and sisters and my brother and sister are seniors and them going to school, they may not be able to get as much as I did.  It’s really discouraging,” said Shakara Burton a sophomore at Augusta University.

The proposal cuts the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant.  It safeguards the Pell Grant, but gets rid of $3.9  Billion from unobligated carryover funding.  Students are concerned that would impact them.

“Financially, I would have to take out more loans, which would mean in the longer run I would be paying more loans and that makes it harder,” said Richardson, who attends school on the HOPE scholarship too.

Richardson is one of more than 2,400 Augusta University students getting close to $10 Million in Pell Grants. Augusta Tech has 3,800 students while Paine has a little more than 700.

In South Carolina, both USC Aiken and Aiken Tech have more than a thousand students getting more than $5 Million.

USC Aiken freshman Joy Goodwin told us she would be impacted too.

“I know a lot of people who would not be in college if it were not for the Pell Grant.”

Daniel Robb, Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management at USC Aiken works with a lot of students who get the Pell Grant.

“Many of them receiving somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,500, which is kind of the maximum.  That has been a lifesaver for many of our students,” he said.

“That means that I would probably have to go to a two-year college instead of a four-year college,” Goodwin added.

Robb added there are currently 1600 students getting aid to complete school at USC Aiken.   That’s about half of the school’s population.

“Pell Grants inordinately affects people of lower incomes and they don’t have the option of sometimes taking loans or family money coming into the picture so, what will happen, I believe, is more people will end up not going to college,” Robb said.

“We can’t help that our parents are who they are.  People who get the Pell Grant are trying to make something of themselves.  If you take that away then how are we going to be able to?  How are we going to be able to get out of this so-called social class of being in poverty?” said Richardson.

This just a proposed cut to the federal budget at this time.  Getting Congress to act on it could take some time.  Until then, students will still receive Pell Grants.Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins

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