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Why College Aid Will Become An Election Year Issue

Justin Sullivan
Getty News Images
Mitt Romney, left, and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, right, campaign in Wisconsin. Romney has been criticized for supporting the House budget Ryan authored.

You know Democrats and their allies plan to use  cuts to Medicare included in the U.S. House budget against presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and any other member of the GOP running for office this fall.

At a press conference in Tampa Thursday, Democrats ran out another line of attack on what the House budget would cut — college aid.

U.S. Rep Kathy Castor, a Democrat, and Hillsborough Community College president Ken Atwater raised the alarm about $170 billion in cuts to the federal Pell Grant program within the House budget.

HCC runs on outside financial aid, Atwater noted, with more than 18,000 students receiving some tuition assistance. The average Pell Grant at HCC is $3,200 a year. Florida residents receive the third-most Pell Grants of any state — $1.93 billion during the 2009–2010 school year, according to U.S. Department of Education Data.

Tampa is a college town, Castor said, and those cuts will mean fewer people can afford higher education and the reduction in federal aid could hurt the region economy.

“This is a community that relies on investments in education, in medical research in transportation and infrastructure,” Castor said. “Those are the keys to economic recovery.”

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan — the Wisconsin Republican who wrote the House budget — notes that Pell Grants cost more than a country facing a $15 trillion debt can afford. His plan would reduce the maximum income of Pell recipients to $23,000 a year from $33,000 a year.

Read more at StateImpact Florida.

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