Letter: Romney-Ryan aim to insure Pell Grant program solvency

Abbi Pittman

To The Appalachian,

In the August 27 issue of The Appalachian, Lindsey Bookout wrote an article that questioned why any student receiving financial aid (most notably Pell Grants) would vote for the Romney-Ryan ticket this November.  However, her article was deceiving and failed to mention a few hard facts about the Pell Grant system. 

In President Obama’s budget proposal, $30.5 billion dollars has been allocated for Pell Grants in 2014. This sum is derived from two categories within the federal budget: $24.5 billion dollars from “discretionary spending” and roughly $6 billion dollars from “mandatory spending.” What the Paul Ryan plan actually reduces (by 14.3 percent) is the category of “discretionary spending” that includes Pell Grants. A cut to this category by no means entails a substantial cut to the Pell Grant program, as there has been no indication of an even distribution in the cuts. 

Another fact that has been simply overlooked is the impending shortfall of the Pell Grant program. The National Review reports that increased student participation due to the lack of job opportunities has caused program costs to double since 2008, forcing the program to rely more heavily on mandatory spending to cover its discretionary short-falls. 

In short, the program is not solvent, and this will eventually lead to promises made that will not be kept. The Department of Education warned in 2012 that if program changes were not implemented, Pell Grants would have an ending shortfall of roughly $20 billion dollars.

What students should understand is that pumping money into any program very rarely increases the quality of the system, but it will always increase prices.  Since 1980, federal aid for education has increased 475 percent after adjusting for inflation. Subsequently, the average cost of college has increased 439 percent since 1982.

Then there is the point of equity that arises with the current system. More Pell Grants pushes the burden of debt from the direct recipient who graduates, who will earn double the lifetime salary than his less educated counterpart, on to the American tax-payer, who perhaps didn’t have the opportunity to attend college. I fail to see the fairness in this scenario.

To put it simply, the Romney-Ryan ticket looks to insure the Pell Grant program’s solvency, so it is there for those who need it most; while encouraging more financially stable individuals to take responsibility for their own educations without pushing the burden onto the rest of us.

So before you vote this November, take Ms. Bookout’s advice according to her article and “vote for what is right.” Just do your homework first and avoid voting off of talking points. 


Wesley Gwinn

ASU College Republicans Vice Chair
Senior political science major