Section: News

U.S. budget proposal could cut financial aid

President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget for 2018 would downsize or eliminate programs that support low-income college students at Kenyon, including the Pell Grant program, work study and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant.

Approximately 170 students at Kenyon receive Pell Grants, which are federal subsidies for low-income college students. If passed, the budget would cut $3.9 billion from the Pell Grant program. Specifically, this amount would come out of the Pell Grant surplus, money set aside to ensure the program’s ability to handle increased demand.

“You might imagine, as the economy gets worse, you might get more Pell Grant applicants,” Director of Financial Aid Craig Slaughter said. “You may have more expenditures in a year than you have actually allocated money. This surplus is meant to help deal with those ebbs and flows.”

The maximum amount that a student can receive per year from the Pell Grant program is $5,920. Students at Kenyon receive a total of approximately $700,000 in Pell Grant funding, Slaughter said. If the cut goes into effect, the Department of Education may have to scale back the amount of money that they can offer to students.

Erich Kaletka ’18, who receives the maximum Pell Grant amount, is one of the 10 percent of students at Kenyon who would be affected by the budget cut.

“I don’t understand the point in cutting a program that’s functioning well,” Kaletka said. “It’s one of the only government programs towards education that doesn’t have some latent effect of negativity.”

The proposed budget cuts would also eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), a roughly billion-dollar program that gives schools block grants to help them afford enrolling high-need students. Kenyon receives $110,000 from the FSEOG program; this money helps fund the financial aid packages of high-need students. 

“Ultimately, the budget still has to get balanced,” Slaughter said.

The proposed budget would also significantly decrease funding for the Federal Work-Study program, which requires schools to provide part-time jobs for college students with financial need. Kenyon receives $100,000 from the government to administer work study, but the College contributes an additional $200,000.

“Our student employment program is much larger than our allocation, but the elimination of federal work study would have some impact on work opportunities,” Slaughter said. “It might mean 30 or 40 fewer positions across campus.” 

Pell Grants, the FSEOG and work study are not the only sources of financial aid on campus. Kenyon factors in a student’s ability to pay tuition while making admissions decisions, but once a student is admitted, Kenyon meets 100 percent of their demonstrated need.

“As far as I can tell, the Pell Grant cut is going to be most painful for students at schools that don’t meet 100 percent of need,” Kaletka said. “I think Kenyon will attempt to meet everybody’s needs as fully as they can.”

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