Proposal regarding financial aid under discussion

Oscar Abello

A little over a month ago, President George W. Bush proposed increasing the maximum federal grant for low-income students by $100 a year for the next five years, with the goal of making higher education more accessible to thousands of Americans.

The new proposal is part of a larger plan to reform the federal loan system for college tuition. Other reforms include allowing Pell Grants to be used for summer college sessions, in particular for those students on track to graduate early.

In another part of the program, the administration announced a new formula for determining financial need for college families last December, the goal being to make the system simpler and more efficient. However, the formula would essentially eliminate 80,000 to 90,000 low-income students from the much needed Pell Grant program.

Proponents of the plan note how it reflects Bush’s once oft- heard mantra of “compassionate conservatism,” especially because the president promises to make the program more efficient than it has been in the past.

Freshman Lauren Saltzburg noted, “I am surprised because Republicans usually don’t choose to provide monetary help to people, but I still think the policy is of good use to middle-class and needy families because, after all, it is still decreasing the cost of college.”

Critics of the plan do acknowledge that any help is beneficial, but they also argue that the meager increase Bush proposes is superficial with regard to the expected increase in tuition over the next five years. If a policy is truly meant to help those most needy, opponents say the plan must be much bolder.

Sophomore Jim Saksa remarked, “Our leaders in Washington need to recognize that in today’s global economy American workers need a college education in order to compete. Increasing Pell grants help, but $100 dollars a year is merely one book, for one class, for one semester. Low-income students need a better helping hand in order to realize the American dream.”

From an even broader standpoint, critics also note that president Bush’s spending patterns may not be entirely beneficial to students at home. Senior Jordan Rushie said, “I think it’s good the president is addressing such a critical issue, but I don’t see why we allocate so little towards financial aid, while a war liberating a people thousands of miles away gets so much more.”

According to, a website run by the non-partisan National Priorities Project, the cost of the Iraqi War as of last Wednesday could have provided 7.5 million students with four-year scholarships at public universities.