Student Aid Alliance Unveils New Website to Help Fight Cuts to Federal Student Aid

WASHINGTON, March 21—The Student Aid Alliance, a coalition of 61 higher education organizations committed to protecting the federal student aid programs, today unveiled a new website (www.studentaidalliance.org) to help students and higher education leaders make the case for protecting Pell Grants and other core federal student aid programs from drastic budget cuts.

The new site highlights student success stories, integrates the Student Aid Alliance’s new Facebook page (facebook.com/studentaidalliance) and Twitter account (twitter.com/stuaidalliance), provides an action center for contacting policymakers, and gives access to data on the prevalence of federal student aid by state and congressional district.

The new site is being launched as Congress continues to work on a budget deal for the current fiscal year.  The House of Representatives passed legislation (H.R. 1) on February 19 that deeply cuts the core student aid programs, including reducing the maximum Pell Grant by 15 percent and reducing grants for more than 9 million low-income students, and eliminating the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and Leveraging Education Assistance Partnerships (LEAP) programs.  (See the list below for how H.R. 1 impacts all of the student aid programs.)

A two-week stopgap funding bill signed by President Obama on March 2 eliminated LEAP, which is the seed money for at least $1 billion in state-provided aid across the country.

The federal budget for the remainder of the current fiscal year beyond mid-March is still up in the air, and student aid is still on the table for more cuts.

“America will need a highly skilled workforce if our economy is to recover and thrive,” said Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, and co-chair of the Student Aid Alliance. “Federal student aid gives our nation’s most needy students the means to access critical educational opportunities and become better prepared for the 21st century work environment. Student aid remains the best investment in human capital we can make as a society.”

“Federal student aid funding is at risk of being cut at the worst possible time for low-income students and the nation,” said David L. Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and co-chair of the Student Aid Alliance. “Students and college leaders need to continue the drumbeat of support for student aid, explaining how important these funds are to low-income students, regional economies, and the future of the United States.”

What’s At Stake For Student Aid in H. R. 1?

H. R. 1, as passed by the House on February 19, makes drastic cuts to the core student aid programs. The Student Aid Alliance – a coalition of more than 60 higher education organizations — supports the restoration of these funds in FY 2011, and looks to maintain these important programs in FY 2012.

The Senate should restore funding for student aid in its version of H. R. 1; and the House should accept the restorations in final negotiations.

The Student Aid Alliance will continue to work with Congress, our members, and the media, to ensure that Washington understands that it cannot balance the budget on the backs of students.

What’s at stake for our programs:

Pell Grants: H. R. 1 cuts the Pell Grant maximum by $845, lowering grants for more than 9 million low-income students.

SEOG: H. R. 1 eliminates funding for this supplemental grant aid for the poorest Pell Grant recipients, cutting an average of $736 from 1.3 million students, and up to $4,000 for the poorest.

LEAP: H. R. 1 eliminates funding for the seed money for state student aid programs, cutting at least $1 billion in state aid across the country.

TRIO: H. R. 1 cuts TRIO by $25 million, which would cause approximately 96,000 students to lose program services. It would also result in the loss of nearly 500 jobs, making it more difficult for colleges to provide the support services at-risk students need to stay in and complete their higher education.

GEAR UP: H. R. 1 cuts GEAR UP by $20 million, excluding more than 40,000 low-income, minority and disadvantaged students from receiving the support they need to prepare for college. More than 100 grants expire in 2011, decreasing the number of teachers, parents and schools helping these students.

The Student Aid Alliance also supports Federal Work Study, GAANN and Javits graduate programs, and Perkins Loans.

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