States Considering Cutting College Scholarships

By Staff
June 15, 2009

Legislators in California, Ohio and Florida are considering reducing funding for grants and scholarships aimed at assisting thousands of low- and middle-income students. USA Today reports that the cutbacks will undoubtedly impact families already struggling to afford escalating college tuition hikes.

In Florida, a budget crisis prompted lawmakers to freeze the state's Bright Futures Scholarship to only cover this year's levels. About 150,000 students, or about half of the state's enrollment, currently receive the scholarship. Meanwhile, state universities are planning to increase tuition by 15 percent this fall--the largest rate hike in 17 years.

"The costs go up, and you're thinking, 'Where is the money going to come from?'" said Andy Werner, who was quoted in the Palm Beach Post. His daughter attends the University of Central Florida.

University officials said that the tuition hike is necessary in order to provide essential classes necessary for students to graduate on time. "Basically this allows us to provide 300 to 400 classes that we wouldn't otherwise be able to offer," explained John Delaney, president of the University of North Florida.

In Ohio, community college students could face losing funds from the Ohio College Opportunity Grant program if they receive Pell grants which cover full tuition. The change would reduce financial aid by about $1,500 annually per student which is typically used to cover living expenses such as child care.

"Many important things in higher education are valuable, and no one can argue against their value," said state Sen. Jon Husted, who was quoted in the Toledo Blade. "But we also have a constitutional responsibility to balance the budget."

In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to address the state's $24 billion deficit includes eliminating the Cal Grants program, which currently offers up to $9,700 annually for each college student who is eligible. According to the advocacy group Institute for College Access and Success, the move would impact more than 200,000 students.

"It's a tragedy if students won't be getting Cal Grants," said Albert Baroody, who works at Pasadena City College's financial aid office and was quoted in the PCC Courier. "They should cut from other less critical programs other than education."

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